TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ Living here for the first 18 years of his life produced a lot of great memories for Lipscomb Bisons coach Scott Sanderson.
The 40 minutes of basketball the Bisons played here Tuesday night with the University of Alabama will not be placed in the “good times” file. The Bisons struggled from the opening tip-off and lost 71-51 to the Crimson Tide at Coleman Coliseum.
“We did not compete the way we typically compete,” Sanderson said. “Wow, that’s all I can say. I did not see this coming at all. We were not very good at all. We competed for about five minutes in the second half.
“In these kinds of games it is how you set the tone both offensively and defensively. We were not very good on either end of the floor. I did not enjoy one thing about the time we were here on the court.”
The loss ended the Bisons winning streak at five games. They are 7-3 this season.
They are 0-11 against teams from the Southeastern Conference since making the move to NCAA Division I.
Alabama is 6-6 overall, winning all six games on their home court this season.
“You have to give Alabama credit though,” Sanderson said. “They played well defensively and understood our personnel. Alabama has improved drastically.”
The Bisons faced a 14-point deficit when they returned to the court for the second half.
They didn’t help themselves by letting Tony Mitchell score on a layup on the first possession of the first half.
But the Bisons started chipping away as their three-point shooting started to click with guards Josh Slater and Jordan Burgason finding the range.
With 14:38 left in the game the Bisons cut the lead to nine, 45-36, as Burgason connected on a three-pointer from the corner. Slater hit one of two free throws with 11:51 remaining to trim the lead to eight points at 45-37.
Trevor Releford scored on a layup with 10:37 on the clock to give the Tide a 47-37 lead.
Charvez Davis connected on back-to-back-back three-pointers to give the Tide a 56-37 lead with 8:30 left in the game. Davis scored a game high 22 points.
Sanderson was concerned that the first five minutes would decide the game. But after eight minutes each team had eight points, an average of one point per minute.
The Bisons spotted Alabama an 8-0 lead in the opening 3:23 of the game before coming back to tie the game at 8-8 on a layup and a free throw by Brandon Barnes at 13:42.
Lipscomb center Adnan Hodzic, who has been scoring most of his points in the second half of games, connected on four-of-10 shots for eight points in the first half. He finished with 12 for the game.
With the Bisons shooting only 12.5 percent (1-of-8) from three-point range in the first half Hodzic’s inside scoring was even more important.
With five seconds left before intermission Davis scored on a layup. He added a free throw to make it 35-19, the biggest lead of the half.
With one second left Slater hit a pair of free throws to cut Alabama’s lead to 35-21. The 21 points was the lowest first half production for the Bisons since scoring 21 against Jacksonville Dec. 6, 2008. The Bisons lost that game 83-67.
The 51 points by the Bisons was the lowest total by the team in a game since losing 57-50 at Samford Nov. 24, 2008.
“It was hard for us to score baskets,” Sanderson said. “Alabama really understood who was doing what on our team.” The Bisons made 15 turnovers and also had 10 shots blocked.
“We got everything blocked,” Sanderson said. “Against Alabama you cannot go too far into the lane or you will get it blocked.
“Blocked shots, in my opinion, are like turnovers. Those 10 blocked shots are the same thing as 10 more turnovers against us.”
Burgason led the Bisons with 13 points. Slater added 10.
Guard Brandon Barnes led the Bisons with eight rebounds. Alabama held a 44-41 advantage on the boards. Chris Hines grabbed game high 10 boards for the Tide.
The Bisons shot 28.8 percent from the field (19-of-66) and 20 percent from the three-point line (5-of-25). Alabama had held opponents to an average of only 58.1 points per game heading into the Lipscomb game.
The pregame buzz was that the Bisons might have a legitimate chance to win against Alabama.
“We weren’t polished at all,” Sanderson said. “If we played like we were capable of playing I thought we had a chance to win. I still feel that way. But when you played like we did you have a zero chance of winning.”
The Bisons will take a short Christmas break before returning to the court Dec. 30 at Memphis.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.