The University of Alabama men’s basketball team dropped its best NCAA Tournament hopes down a deep hole on Thursday, gradually tried to coax them back to the surface but after falling behind by 14 points in the first half, the Crimson Tide could never do the one thing it needed – take a lead.

As a result, UA lost 60-55 and missed a chance to enhance its resume and position itself for a possible double-bye in the SEC Tournament next month.

The Crimson Tide trailed by 10 points, 40-30, with 14 minutes remaining but gradually pulled to a one-point deficit on five possessions in the final eight minutes. UA, though, could never get the one crucial stop it needed or, when it did, could not convert on the offensive end.

“We’ve been searching for a balanced game and we just weren’t balanced tonight,” said Alabama head coach Avery Johnson. “We found ourselves in the second half, but we just didn’t have a good first half by any stretch of the imagination. We were just launching up threes.”

The Bulldogs played without All-SEC forward Yante Maten (knee) but guard J.J. Frazier picked up the slack, scoring 28 points including the final 10 points of the game for the Bulldogs.

“J.J. has a great competitive heart,” Bulldog coach Mark Fox said. “That doesn’t surprise us. We decided to play him off the ball and that opened up some things for some other players.”

Early foul trouble against point guard Dazon Ingram, who played just seven minutes due to three fouls, was a problem for Alabama. Even with Ingram in the game, though, the Crimson Tide struggled. Alabama made just 7 of 31 shots from the floor in the first half, was 1 of 4 from the foul line and had it not been for 10 first-half points from ArMond Davis off the bench, the 12-point (30-18) halftime deficit could have been even worse.

“We just weren’t ready to play,” said forward Braxton Key. “We were one pass and then a shot instead of moving the ball like we did against LSU. That’s a formula for getting beat.”

Alabama (16-11, 9-6 SEC) will have a quick turnaround and play at Texas A&M on Saturday.


Reach Cecil Hurt at or 205-722-0225.