Alabama’s Win Streak Ends at 10, Sooners Outlast Tide 66-61
In the first game of the 2021 SEC/Big 12 challenge, the Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Norman to take on a hot Oklahoma team, ranked No. 24 in the nation and lost in a tough battle from start to finish. Alabama's fourth loss on the season also brought with it Oklahoma's fourth win over a ranked opponent this month and the end to the Tide's 10-game winning streak, dating back to Dec. 22.
The No. 9 ranked Crimson Tide's 10-game win streak was the longest the program had seen since the 1996-97 season in which they finished 17-14 and missed the tournament.
From the tip-off, Oklahoma came out on fire, jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes. After a slow start, the Tide went on a 9-0 run to close the gap and swing the momentum at the halfway point of the first half. Alex Reese was a lone bright spot for the Tide offense, keeping them close with 10 first half points, and when John Petty eventually hit his first three of the game, it gave Alabama the lead, 20-17.
Bama closed the first half with two turnovers from Primo and Quinerly and went into the locker room down 32-29. Turnovers were a problem for Alabama the from the start. In the first half alone, the Tide had 10 turnovers, and finished the game with 16.
From the beginning of the game, and throughout the remainder of the it, Oklahoma played extremely physical defense, centering around Elijah Harkless who finished the game with three steals. The Sooners out-rebounded Alabama 42-34 and crashed the offensive boards very effectively, finishing with 13.
Oklahoma started the second half much like the first, taking a 55-43 lead halfway though the period. Once again, Alex Reese jumpstarted Alabama's offense after his third three of the night, and the Tide eventually regained the lead a few minutes later, only to lose it again shortly after. With 3:24 remaining Oklahoma sophomore forward Jalen Hill sunk two free throws to take a 61-60 lead that the Sooners did not relinquish.
Coach Nate Oats, following the loss, "Not our best performance. I told our guys if we can learn from it, it’ll end up helping us in the long run," Oats said. "We can go one of two ways. We can come back and play a lot better the next game or we could tailspin. We’ll see what our leadership does.”
On another poor shooting night for the Tide, Oklahoma's physicality proved to be too much to handle. Reese was the Tide's leading scorer, going for 15, with Jaden Shackelford right behind him with 14. The Alabama bench, outside of Keon Ellis, added zero points and the rebounding prowess of Oklahoma's big men took advantage of a lingering injury problem with this team.
Alabama is set to get its transfer big man Jordan Bruner back from a torn meniscus in February which should work to alleviate some of the team's rebounding woes.
The Crimson Tide moves back home on Feb. 3 to take on LSU, who they beat 105-75 on Jan. 19, setting an SEC record for three pointers in a game. Sitting atop the SEC, Wednesday is an opportunity for Alabama to extend their lead over the conference and secure the season sweep of the Tigers.
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