Dec. 17, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team dropped a hard-fought contest Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum, falling to the No. 11/9 Wichita State Shockers, 72-67.
"They are a really good basketball team and we knew that coming in," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "There's a reason why they're one of the top teams and undefeated so far. They did a great job defending. We really struggled at the free throw line and they didn't and that was a major factor, especially down the stretch."
With the loss, Alabama (5-5) falls to .500 on the season while Wichita State (11-0), the second-highest ranked non-conference opponent to play in Tuscaloosa, remains undefeated. The loss snaps Alabama's 15-game regular season home winning streak. Before tonight, the Tide's last regular-season loss in Coleman Coliseum was on December 30, 2012 to Tulane.
The Shockers were nearly perfect from the free-throw line, going 25-of-27 (.926) though Alabama held the edge from behind the three-point arc, shooting 7-of-20 (.350). Senior guard Trevor Releford was the Tide's leading scorer, returning after sitting out Saturday's game with what was called an "aggravated hip" to score 22 points with a season-high six assists. Junior guard Rodney Cooper had a second-straight game in double digits, scoring 14 as Alabama's next-highest scorer.
Early turnovers hurt the Alabama in the opening half, with Wichita State scoring seven unanswered to build a double-digit lead at 16-6 near the 13-minute mark. The Shockers kept the Tide at arm's length until Alabama found a spark late in the half, drawing within one point, 33-32, at halftime.
The game remained a back-and-forth battle in the second half, with Alabama eventually taking a 52-51 lead off back-to-back three-point baskets by Releford with eight minutes remaining. A raucous Coleman Coliseum crowd came alive as the teams were deadlocked 58-58 at the final media timeout. However, Wichita State was able to hold on down the stretch and pull out a five-point win.
Alabama will end its three-game homestand on Saturday night when it squares off against the Xavier Musketeers at 6 p.m. CT. The contest will be televised on CSS and can also be seen on ESPN3.com.
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