Alabama finishes season at Coleman Coliseum with a disappointing loss to Texas A&M

Alabama guards Keon Ellis (14) and Jaden Shackelford show disappointment in the Crimson Tide’s 87-71 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies on March 2 at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

CW / David Gray

Alabama guards Keon Ellis (14) and Jaden Shackelford show disappointment in the Crimson Tide’s 87-71 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies on March 2 at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

Alabama Crimson Tide basketball fans are accustomed to the team dropping important games in February and March over the years. Wednesday night was yet another bad loss when the Crimson Tide fell to the Texas A&M Aggies (19-11, 8-9) 87-71.

“Obviously a disappointing loss,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “Got to give Texas A&M a ton of credit. The tough stuff, they beat us on. Our defense was a disaster in the second half. We ended up with 24 rebounds, which is a season low. We’ve been coming out of the half without enough energy.”

The Crimson Tide were in a position to secure the fifth seed in the SEC tournament next week in Tampa, but now the future is unclear. Alabama still has to make the journey to Baton Rouge to play a tough LSU team on Saturday. If the Crimson Tide can’t come up with a win over the Tigers, they will finish 9-9 in the SEC.

Earlier in the week, Oats said his team needed to protect the ball against one of the best turnover defenses in the country. His team didn’t walk the walk. Alabama turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 29 points the other way. 

“The turnovers are really frustrating,” Oats said. “We got to figure out how to get these guys locked in. It’s mainly our guards; 16 of the 19 turnovers came from perimeter players.”

After a strong few weeks on the glass, the Crimson Tide were bullied in the paint. Texas A&M finished the game with 33 rebounds to Alabama’s 24.

Alabama shot 48% from the field and knocked down eight 3-pointers, but it wasn’t enough to cover up the turnovers. The Crimson Tide had three players score in double digits. Jaden Shackelford scored 16, Jahvon Quinerly scored 14, and Keon Ellis scored 13.

The trio for Alabama didn’t perform as well as Texas A&M’s three-headed monster. Guard Quenton Jackson scored 28 points on 9-for-13 shooting. His backcourt partner Tyrece Radford added 22 of his own, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Forward Henry Coleman III was a force in the paint, finishing the night with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams shooting over 50%. The Crimson Tide led 40-37 at the break. Alabama had nine turnovers in the first half, but the stellar shooting made up for it.

That changed in the second half. The turnovers continued, the Crimson Tide missed shots, and the Aggies took advantage. Texas A&M outscored the Crimson Tide 50-31 in the second frame.

“We got to be a little tougher,” Shackelford said. “We could’ve had a better everything leading into this game. It’s March now. We need to hone in every game. The main focus is winning and nothing else.”

On a night when fans thought Alabama was over the hump of dropping to inferior opponents, attendees filed out of Coleman Coliseum in silence for the final time this season with a few minutes to play.

The mood as the buzzer sounded was ominous. 

Alabama can put this loss behind it if it is able to win at LSU. But if not, the Crimson Tide will be looking for answers at the wrong time of the year.

“The end is going to come quick if this is the effort,” Oats said. “We’re as good as our effort. It’d be nice if they would play hard for each other. We got to figure out what it’s going to take to get them to play hard every night.”

The Crimson Tide and Tigers are set for an 11 a.m. CT tipoff at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday, March 5, on CBS.

“People are going to say whatever,” Ellis said. “We just got to stick together. Just go out and try to win basketball games.”