3 things we learned from Alabama basketball’s 73-71 loss against Western Kentucky

James Fletcher
The Tuscaloosa News
12/19/20 MBB Alabama vs  WesternKentucky
Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats 
Photo by CrimsonTidePhotos

Alabama (4-3) fell 73-71 to Western Kentucky (6-2) on Saturday in Coleman Coliseum.

After battling back and forth through the entire game, Western Kentucky got a late call to go its way and finished off the Crimson Tide.

Here are three things we learned:

Crimson Tide unable to finish down the stretch

There are two ways the term finishing is used in basketball: It can describe how a player scores around the rim or how a team closes a game. Alabama had neither in the final minutes.

Herb Jones botched what seemed to be an uncontested layup with just over a minute left in the game, giving Western Kentucky a chance to take the lead.

Inside of 30 seconds, Western Kentucky took a shot that clipped the rim and went to star center Charles Bassey. Bassey tipped the ball back toward the rim but it came off the cylinder and into the hands of the Crimson Tide.

A whistle blew as the officials met to call goaltending on Alabama, giving the Hilltoppers a 73-71 lead.

“They were kind of arguing about the play,” said coach Nate Oats. “There was no confusion.”

Jones rushed the other way with the ball, drove to the rim and missed another layup, this time with three defenders around him.

Western Kentucky ran out the remainder of the clock by dribbling around Alabama defenders and avoiding fouls.

Alabama makes big shift in starting lineup

Oats made his first changes to the starting lineup this season, sending Jahvon Quinerly to the bench and promoting James Rojas.

“We wanted our best defensive lineup we could get in there to start the game,” said Oats.

Playing without a traditional point guard on the floor, Jones took over the role of primary ballhandler, sharing the duties with John Petty and Jaden Shackelford.

Rojas finished with no points and four fouls. He played in a similar role to what Jones is accustomed to, moving from the dunker’s spot under the rim to the top of the key.

Jahvon Quinerly responds

After coming off the bench for the first time this season, Quinerly made an immediate impact for Alabama on both ends.

Quinerly was among the first off the bench for the Crimson Tide, entering at the 15:41 mark in the first half and remaining on the court until halftime.

He finished with nine points and three assists, but it was his improved defense that made a difference.

Quinerly came up with a big block with 11:33 remaining in the first half that stopped Western Kentucky from building momentum. He worked well to get around screens and helped force multiple Hilltopper turnovers.

Up next

Alabama is scheduled to face East Tennessee State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Coleman Coliseum.

The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.