Alabama vs. Georgia for the lead in Southeastern Conference basketball? Okay, there are seven SEC…
Tide Basketball Suffers Road Loss
Alabama was led by Trevor Releford who scored 15 second-half points and finished with 17 on the night, along with a team-leading four steals and three assists. Freshman Shannon Hale had another solid performance, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds in the losing effort.
"We struggled to finish plays in and around the basket because of their physicality," Crimson Tide Coach Anthony Grant said. "Give them credit. They're extremely physical inside. They have great length. We had a couple opportunities in the first half in and around the basket that we could not finish. In the second half, same deal. You look at the stat sheet and you see that we had 10 turnovers and they blocked 10 shots. They are an extremely physical team."
After trading baskets in the early going, Georgia broke a 15-15 tie on a three by Kenny Gaines that started a 19-8 run over the final 7:22 of the first half, giving the Bulldogs a 34-23 lead at intermission. Gaines was nearly unstoppable in the opening half, as he connected on four three-pointers and had 16 points.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to as much as 13 points in the second half. However, the Tide went on a 10-3 run and cut the lead to three points, 46-43, with 7:37 left, but would not get any closer. Georgia, which attempted 34 free throws in the second half alone, knocked down 18-of-24 free throws in the final seven minutes to seal the victory.
"I felt like the second half our guys really fought," head coach Anthony Grant said. "You have to give Georgia credit. In the first half, Gaines stepped up and made some shots that we had not really seen out of him. We knew he would be aggressive, but for him to make four 3's against a zone hurt.
Georgia finished the game with 21 more free throw attempts, knocking down 31-of-44 from the charity stripe, compared to 16-of-23 for the Tide. Alabama was whistled for 29 fouls, compared to 17 for Bulldogs. Georgia also had a big 41-32 advantage on the glass, dropping the Tide to 1-7 this season when getting outrebounded.
Rodney Cooper, who scored 11 straight points during a stretch in the second half, had a solid performance off the bench with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Bulldogs were led by Gaines and Charles Mann, who each finished with a game-high 22 points. Marcus Thornton added nine points, eight rebounds and a game-high five blocked shots.
The Tide will return to Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night when it hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 7 p.m. CT. The contest will be televised on SEC TV.