Crimson Tide Defeats Second No. 1 Team of the Season
The No. 8 Crimson Tide Men's Basketball team defeated the top ranked Houston Cougars 71-65 Saturday afternoon. It is the first time Alabama defeated two top-ranked teams in a season.
Alabama led the majority of the first half with freshman Noah Clowney scoring a team high 8 points while recording 6 rebounds.
While the Tide was ahead for most of the first half, the team turned the ball over 12 times and was just 5-11 from the line. Alabama's carelessness with the ball and tough free throw shooting allowed Houston to stay in the game and ultimately take the lead at the end of the half.
Houston's ability to keep Alabama's leading scorer in Brandon Miller off the scoreboard in the first half played a key role in their 31-27 lead at half. The Cougars hit two 3's to start the second half which extended their lead to 10. Alabama was down by as many as 15 points, but the Crimson Tide kept fighting.
Alabama took better care of the basketball after settling down in the second half. The Tide didn't turn the ball over the final 15 minutes of the game. Crimson Tide Head Coach Nate Oats went with a smaller lineup a quarter of the way through the second half and put an emphasis on playing better defense.
"We mixed it up a little bit because it obviously wasn't working great there early in the second half. I'd also just showed our guys we gotta get stops," Oats said. His message worked as Houston only scored made two field goals in the final eight minutes.
Offensively, shots started falling for the Tide. Rylan Griffen and Mark Sears hit back-to-back 3's to close the lead to 5 points with 11:18 remaining. Sears nailed a 3-pointer out of a media timeout to put Alabama in front with 3:05 remaining and the Tide never looked back.
Miller, who scored for the first time with 7:53 remaining, came in clutch making 8-9 free throws down the stretch and clinched the victory with a steal as time expired. Oats gave his leading scorer some words of encouragement in the locker room at half.
"At halftime I kinda told him 'we gotta do more to affect the game... you can do more than just score the ball,'" Oats said. "We kind of challenged him defensively. He was much better in the second half defensively."
Clowney finished the game with the first double double of his collegiate career, 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Crimson Tide comes back to Coleman Coliseum where it will face Memphis on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.