By: Garrett Franks
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama commits 20 turnovers in a 100-90 loss to Gonzaga in the C.M. Newton Classic.
The scene in Birmingham was magnificent. Legacy Arena – which was recently renovated, was sold out with over 15,000 fans in attendance. This was the second game in a home-and-home series with Gonzaga. The first match-up came last year in Seattle Washington at Climate Pledge Arena. Alabama came out of that game with the win, which sent shockwaves all throughout college basketball.
“It was a good game. I’m happy everybody in Birmingham got to see a good game,” said Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats. “It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but that’s a good team, though.”
While much of that Alabama team has either graduated or transferred, Gonzaga is nearly nearly identical from last year.
Alabama started the game out hot, as they built up a nine point lead. Jaden Bradley had the most points in the first half for the Tide with 12 points and two assist.
After a great start, the Tide cooled off. Alabama struggled to take care of the ball with 14 turnovers in the first half, compared the Gonzaga’s three. Star transfer point guard Mark Sears struggled in the first only scoring five points. those five points were all he could muster up from the field.
Gonzaga clawed their way back into the game thanks to the senior Drew Timme. Timme ended the first half with 16 points, five rebounds, and two assist. The precedent of Timme doing well against the Tide was set in their match-up last season. Timme finished with a double-double scoring a team-high 23 points, ten rebounds, and adding four assist in last years match-up.
Throughout the first half, Timme had his way on Charles Bediako and Noah Clowney.
While the Tide was down 47-42 at half, Brandon Miller took charge. In the first half Miller struggled to find his grove. He then exploded for 26 in the 2nd half. It was very reminiscent of the Colin Sexton performance against Minnesota back in 2017. Miller finished the game with a career-high 36 points.
“We wouldn’t have been in the game at all. Our defense was really struggling. … It’s nice to have a guy that can go score the basketball at a pretty high clip when you’re struggling in other areas,” said Oats.
Miller wasn’t the only one who had an excellent second half. Timme turned it up a notch as well as he finished with 30 and 10 rebounds.
While the Tide’s offense did their job in the second half scoring 48 points, Gonzaga had the tide’s number on defense giving up a season-high 100 points.
“We needed to do a better job having different options to guard them,” said Oats.
Jaden Bradley had an excellent game as well. In only his second start the true-freshman scored 18 points, a team-high 4 assist, and was a perfect 6/6 from the charity stripe.
Bradley replaced Nimari Burnett for the second straight game as Burnett recovers from wrist surgery. According to Alabama Burnett is out 6-8 weeks. His impacted on defense cannot be over-stated. Even Oats acknowledged the team is missing Burnett.
“It definitely hurt us not having him, but we’re not gonna have him for a while, so we’ve gotta figure it out,” said Oats.
Gonzaga began to run away with the lead With about four minutes remaining, as they stretched their lead to eight, the “Zags” never looked back. Turnovers were the key difference in the game as Alabama committed 20 compared to Gonzaga’s nine.
That’s an area that Oats knows he’ll have to improve.
“We’ll get better. We play these big games to figure out what we need to work on,” said Oats.
The Crimson Tide will return to action Tuesday, December 2oth against Jackson State in Coleman Coliseum.