On this final exam, let’s have a multiple choice question.

 The question is “Who is condemned to relive the same events over and over into Eternity?” The choices are (A) Sisyphus, who has to perpetually roll a rock to the top of a hill only to see it roll down again, or (B) Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” or ( C) the Alabama basketball fan watching a winnable home game in February slip away.

 The correct answer is (D) All of the above.

 The Crimson Tide, nurturing faint hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid, lost to Texas A&M 74-68, a game reminiscent of the past four seasons when Alabama struggled against underdog SEC teams at Coleman Coliseum. Since 2017, Alabama is now 6-11 in SEC home games at home despite needing many of those games to make a viable NCAA Tournament run.

 “That’s a disappointing loss, one that put a big damper on our hopes for the NCAA Tournament,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We’ve got to get this figured out. We didn’t do a great job of attacking the press and that’s on me. We’ve got to come out ready to play and that’s on me. I didn’t think we gave the effort on the defensive end in the last four minutes to win. We needed to get Herb (Jones) in there on defense but with the way they were pressing, it was hard to keep him in there.

 “They slowed us way down. We didn’t do a good job attacking their press. Buzz (Williams, the Texas A&M coach) did a good job of taking us out of our game.”

 Despite a low energy level from the outset, Alabama had a 62-56 lead after a layup and free throw by Jaden Shackelford with 4:18 to play. But the Crimson Tide then went on a drought of over three minutes and the Aggies went on a 12-0 run, taking a 68-62 lead on a Quenton Jackson 3-pointer with 57 seconds to play.

 Despite that, Alabama (14-12, 6-7 SEC) did have two potential game-tying 3-point shots in the final minute thanks to an Aggie turnover and a pair of missed free throws. But Kira Lewis and Shackelford both missed and the Aggies sealed the game with four free throws in the final 18 seconds.

 Texas A&M started the game with an 8-0 lead and while reserve UA guard Beetle Bolden provided a spark of energy that put UA ahead 34-28 at the half, UA could never create significant separation.

 Shackelford led Alabama with 24 points, while Lewis added 16. Jackson had 20 points, including 13 from the foul line, to lead the Aggies. Texas A&M also made 11 of 24 3-point attempts despite entering the game as one of the NCAA’s worst 3-point shooting teams.

 Alabama will continue SEC play on Saturday, beginning a two-game road swing through Mississippi against Ole Miss on Saturday night.


 Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt




  Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt