PHOENIX – After a close first half which saw No. 4 Arizona lead 41-40, Alabama came out in the second half and a 10-0 run put the Crimson Tide ahead 54-52 with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Then disaster struck for Nate Oats and his team.

The Wildcats went on multiple runs, including a 19-3 run immediately after the 12 minute mark to pull away and never look back. While Alabama did try to claw back into the game, Arizona just never let up and got the win in a very important game for both teams.

The game started off poor from both teams. What was expected to be an offensive firework display turned into a 17-15 score halfway through the first half. The Crimson Tide were shooting just 13 percent from three, and were having to keep up defensively with Arizona.

The offense got better as the half went on, and Alabama was able to stay in the game due to their ability to drive the ball inside, and freshman Sam Walters got hot, scoring 12 points in the half on those drive and kicks.

A 41-40 halftime deficit was manageable if Alabama got shots to fall, and that’s what gave the team hope coming out for the second half.

Grant Nelson made a pair of threes to highlight the 10-0 run and the 54-52 score, and a Wildcats timeout saw them lose a lot of their momentum in Phoenix. With Arizona on edge along with their fans, Alabama looked prime to pull away for a big win.

The disaster, as previously mentioned was done through brute force and the ability for Arizona to just bully whoever Alabama threw down low defensively. It was very similar to what Purdue did to the Crimson Tide a few weeks ago, but instead of Zach Edey, there was a group of players that were all able to get inside.

Arizona went into wounded animal-mode, and turned to what they do best: outpacing teams. Alabama turned the ball over on numerous occasions, including a Grant Nelson turnover off an inbound pass and it gave the Wildcats easy points and momentum.

The rest of the game went exactly the way Arizona wanted to; they dictated the tempo, forced turnovers, and held Alabama to a below average shooting night with great defense.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love gave the Wildcats 11 points in the second half alone, and Pelle Larson helped out with nine points on three-of-five shooting.

Those were to two main guys for Arizona late into that game, but the damage was done by center Oumar Ballo. He forced both Nick Pringle and Mohamed Wague to foul out, which opened up lanes inside for the guards to drive. For Arizona, they had five players hit double-digits, which highlighted the total team display by them.

For Alabama, it was more of the same that cost them both the games against Purdue and Creighton. Foul trouble, bad turnovers, and an inability to get stops late saw them collapse in this game.

Grant Nelson, despite his run to start the second half, had his worst game as an Alabama player. He had 13 second half points to his credit, but only grabbed one rebound and seemed to be pushed around a lot down low. His bad turnover in the backcourt also gave Arizona much needed momentum.

It was also a game to forget for Mark Sears, who was held to just 12 points on two-of-seven shooting. He was able to get six steals, but his offense was just not there tonight.

The best performance for Alabama was easily Sam Walters. The freshman had 15 points, and he was able to grab a couple of rebounds. This could be the game where he breaks out for Alabama and fans can finally see what he was like in the preseason scrimmages.

Overall, while this is certainly not a bad loss for Alabama by any means, this does move them to 6-5 on the year and they are now staring at a three game losing streak. The gauntlet of Purdue, Creighton, and Arizona on the road was going to be tough, but if one of those games goes your way there is at least some positive.

The Crimson Tide have been competitive with three of the best teams in the country, but they now are faced with a tougher challenge going into the last part of their non-conference schedule. A matchup with Eastern Kentucky should be the game where Alabama can right the ship going into Christmas, but there is still a lot of work needed for this team to be where Nate Oats and the fans want them to be.