BIRMINGHAM | Traditionally, it’s March that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
For Alabama basketball, it was December.
The Crimson Tide played a sluggish game against a Texas team without its leading scorer on Friday night but fell apart down the stretch as the Longhorns took a 66-50 win that dropped UA to 8-4 on the year as it heads into SEC play.
The 50 points was Alabama’s worst offensive output since a 64-45 defeat at Xavier in November of 2015 when Avery Johnson was coaching his first season for UA.
“We just played bad tonight,” said Alabama forward John Petty. “We had bad rhythm, we had bad spacing. (Their) defense didn’t really affect us, it was just us.
“Everyone wasn’t giving great effort tonight. We had people jogging back in transition.”
“They were mentally tougher, they shared the ball a little bit more, they had consistent energy,” said Johnson.
“We just didn’t have it. I’m very disappointed.”
Alabama was within five points with 7:01 to play as Collin Sexton scored on an offensive rebound and putback. But the Crimson Tide scored just one basket in the final 5:42 of the game as Texas (9-3) closed on a 12-2 run.
Mo Bamba scored a career-high 17 points for Texas, adding 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.
“I challenged Mo tonight,”said Texas coach Shaka Smart. “I thought he had a lot more in him than we had seen.”
In a recurrence of recent problems, Alabama lacked offensive rhythm in the first half, exacerbated by the presence of the 7-foot Bamba. The freshman center for Texas blocked two shots in the half but altered a half-dozen more. Only a pair of baskets in the final minute allowed Alabama to dodge a double-digit deficit as UT led 35-28 at the break.
The problems persisted into the second half as Texas scored the first five points to push the lead back to 12 points. Alabama cut the lead to 45-41 with 12:56 to play but scored just nine points over the rest of the game. UA shot just 34 percent (21 of 61) and made just three 3-point attempts.
Petty led Alabama with 14 points while Daniel Giddens came off the bench to add 10 points and six rebounds. Leading scorer Collin Sexton finished with eight points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Alabama opens SEC play on Dec. 30 against nationally ranked Texas A&M.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.