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Alabama Falters Down the Stretch in 82-76 Loss to Georgia

The Crimson Tide couldn't get the stops it needed against a team that was previously winless in the SEC.

When it needed stops down the stretch, the Alabama defense could not get stops. The game in Georgia quickly turned into a free throw shooting clinic for the Bulldogs, and they held on to beat the Crimson Tide 82-76 for their first SEC win of the season.  

"Disappointing loss obviously with Georgia being winless in the SEC," said Alabama head coach Nate Oats. "We continue to have these issues with playing up and down to the level of our competition."

Alabama held a 68-67 lead with 3:43 left after a Noah Gurley putback dunk. However, from that point on the Crimson Tide struggled from the floor, and Georgia was converting from the floor and free throw line. The Bulldogs went 20-23 from the free throw line in the second half. 

With the loss, Alabama falls to 13-7 overall and 4-4 in the SEC with a tough three-game stretch coming up against three straight top-15 teams. Georgia came into the contest 5-14 overall and 0-6 in the SEC. 

Down six points with a little over a minute left, Alabama had a brief glimmer of hope to get back into the game. James Rojas made two free throws to cut the deficit to four, and stole the ensuing inbound pass. He was fouled on a layup and could have trimmed the Georgia lead to two points. Instead he missed both free throws, and the Bulldogs were fouled and converted both shots on the other end. 

Charles Bediako at Georgia

Alabama held a 66-62 with 5:30 to go and were outscored 20-10 over the final five and a half minutes of the game. 

Heading into the matchup, Oats said he would know more about the maturity of his team based on how they started both halves. The Crimson Tide did not get out to particularly strong starts in either half. 

Early on, the Bulldogs were on fire from behind the arc, making four of their first nine three-point attempts and leading by as much as 27-19. However, they cooled off, and Jaden Shackelford continued heating up for Alabama. He had 16 first-half points, shooting 5-7 from three, while the rest of the team was 1-9. However, Alabama took a 42-36 lead into halftime. 

JD Davison scored the first three points of the second half tp put Alabama up 45-36. He missed the back end of a pair of free throws that would've put the Tide up double-digits, and then a few minutes later the game was tied at 48-48 after a Georgia three-pointer from Aaron Cook. 

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JD Davison at Georgia

The Bulldogs shot 34.8 percent from three making eight shots. Alabama made six three-pointers in the first half, but could only make three in the second half. The Crimson Tide is still struggling from beyond the arc. Outside of Shackelford, Alabama shot 3-25 from three in the loss. 

Oats changed the starting lineup for the fourth straight game. Once again not liking the effort he was seeing in the first half, Oats turned to senior walk-on guard Britton Johnson at the under-eight media timeout. Johnson came in and promptly drew a charge on the defensive end and grabbed on offensive rebound on the other end of the floor. 

It was a sloppy first half for both teams with a combined 15 turnovers. Alabama nine from careless passes to lane violations to charges, which led to 10 Bulldog points off turnovers in the first half alone. Alabama finished with 19 total turnovers, the most since the Memphis loss on Dec. 14, including some key ones when the offense got out of control over the final stretch of the game. 

"I thought we had some hard-playing guys out there tonight, but some of the turnovers were a little mind-boggling," Oats said. "I don't have an answer on some of them to be honest with you."

After leading the team with 16 points at halftime, Shackelford had just four points in the second half. Keon Ellis had 15 points while Noah Gurley added 11. Charles Bediako had one of his better offensive performances in a while with eight points and eight rebounds shooting 4-5 from the floor, but all his points and shots came in the first half. 

Keon Ellis at Georgia

Ellis briefly left the game in the second half after taking an elbow to the face. With about nine minutes left in the game, Darius Miles left with a knee injury and did not return. 

Next up, Alabama returns home to face No. 4 Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday at 3 p.m.

"Turnovers were a major problem, but the biggest problem is just our energy, our effort," Oats said. "As a head coach, that stuff comes back on me. I gotta figure out how to put the right guys on the floor who care about their teammates and will play hard for them. Obviously I've not done a great job of figuring out how to do that so far this year."

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