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First, it was the Cleveland Browns making the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2002. Now, Alabama basketball has followed in similar fashion, clinching a regular season title for the first time since that same year.
The No. 6 Crimson Tide (19-6, 14-2 SEC) got the job done against Mississippi State (13-12, 7-9 SEC) despite only scoring 64 points. It’s the first time this season that they’ve won a game putting up 66 points or fewer.
It’s also the first time since 2006-07 that a SEC school has won regular season titles in football and basketball. The Florida Gators were that last school, and they won national championships in both sports.
Alabama checked that box in football, beating Ohio State 52-24 back in January. Now it’s the basketball team’s turn, but that will be a lot easier said than done. While they got the win on Saturday, it was a struggle down the stretch.
The Tide continue to play good defense, but the offense has been inconsistent — and downright poor — at crucial moments. When they’re playing and shooting well, they can beat anybody. This is a deep roster capable of a deep run in March, but the issues with consistency are a major problem.
At one point late in the second half, Alabama was 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. It allowed the Bulldogs to make a late surge and almost steal one out from underneath the Tide. In fact, it took a three-pointer from James Rojas with 43 seconds left to create the needed separation.
Nate Oats and company are not out of the running for a No. 1 seed yet. With ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi haven’t them slatted as a 2-seed, a 1-spot is still within reach. But Alabama has got to get back to knocking down shots more consistently.
If they do, watch out. We might see another SEC squad make a run.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.