Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats tried to warn everyone.
He knew Georgia, despite its inability to previously win an SEC game, could provide problems for the Crimson Tide.
“They’re going to win a game here soon against somebody they’re not picked to win it against,” Oats said Monday.
Somebody was Alabama.
The Bulldogs, who entered the game last in the SEC, managed to hang around with the Crimson Tide and pull off the upset. Georgia defeated Alabama 82-76 on Tuesday at Stegeman Coliseum.
Here are observations and takeaways from the matchup between Georgia (6-14, 1-6 SEC) and Alabama (13-7, 4-4):
Turnovers, Georgia free throws plague Alabama as offense falls apart late
Alabama gave the ball away far too often to Georgia.
The Crimson Tide turned the ball over 19 times, 10 of which came in the second half. And Georgia took advantage, scoring 23 points off turnovers.
That proved crucial in the end when every possession mattered for Alabama.
Early in the second half, Alabama held a 45-36 lead after JD Davison made a bucket and a free throw. The Crimson Tide looked primed to build on that lead and head toward the victory many expected over a five-win Georgia team.
Then, the Bulldogs started to climb back.
Georgia tied the score at 48 with just over 15 minutes remaining. Keon Ellis turned in buckets on three straight possessions to halt the Bulldogs from gaining more ground
But Alabama couldn’t find a way to build on Ellis’ efforts, allowing Georgia to remain in the game.
The Crimson Tide’s offense struggled to be consistent, converting on only about a third of its shots late. Alabama scored on only seven of its last 20 field goal attempts.
Meanwhile, Alabama had several players collecting too many fouls in the second half. Seven Crimson Tide players picked up three or more fouls. James Rojas fouled out.
And Georgia went to work from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs converted on 24 of 30 attempts.
With that kind of success and Alabama’s inability to shoot consistently, the Crimson Tide couldn’t afford free-throw misses late. And yet, it did. For example, Rojas couldn’t convert on two attempts with about a minute left and Alabama trailing 76-72.
Alabama produces another sluggish start
The way Alabama started the game looked all too familiar.
The Crimson Tide looked allergic to 3-point shooting early. Point guard Jahvon Quinerly couldn’t find his offensive groove. Turnovers popped up. And once again Alabama found itself playing from behind.
Most Alabama players couldn’t shoot from deep, but Georgia could. And before long, the Bulldogs held an eight-point lead, up 27-19 with 7:37 left in the first half.
The story seems to be the same for Alabama basketball to start each game, but the good news for the Crimson Tide is that Jaden Shackelford seems to always be ready to play hero.
He gave Alabama a jolt while trailing Missouri last Saturday and did it again against Georgia.
The junior guard was Alabama’s only consistent source of 3-point shooting. He hit 5 of 7 in the first half. Fifteen of his 16 first-half points came from beyond the arc.
His efforts to fuel the Crimson Tide offense helped Alabama grab a 42-36 lead heading into the break.
If not for Shackelford’s shooting, Alabama would have been 1-for-9 from deep in the first half.
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Darius Miles leaves with injury
With about 13 minutes left, Darius Miles fell to the hardwood grabbing his left knee. He had to be helped off the court by two people.
He did not return.
Prior to exiting with an injury, Miles had grabbed two rebounds, scored two points and was plus-four in 12 minutes of playing time.
Ellis also exited the game but he returned later in the second half. SEC Network reported that he had cleared concussion protocol.
The Crimson Tide will return to Tuscaloosa for a matchup against No. 4 Baylor. Alabama will face the Bears at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
It’s the first of three consecutive games the Crimson Tide has coming up against ranked opponents. Alabama also faces Auburn on Feb. 1 and Kentucky on Feb. 5, teams ranked No. 1 and No. 12 in the AP poll, respectively.
Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly