If Alabama Was An Independent, It Might Be In The Top 5 Headed To No. 1 Auburn After Beating No. 4 Baylor

If Alabama was an independent, it might just be 18-3 and in the top five or 10 in the nation as it prepares to play at No. 1 Auburn on Tuesday.

Of the Crimson Tide’s seven losses this season, four are against the SEC, including a defeat at league worst Georgia (6-14, 1-6) on Tuesday to put Alabama (14-7, 4-4 SEC) in a tie for seventh in the league.

But on Saturday, the Crimson Tide looked like an NCAA Tournament team and beat one in an 87-78 victory over No. 4 and defending national champion Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in front of 15,383 at a sold-out Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama may be .500 and in the middle of the pack of the SEC, but it won its fifth game over a top 25 team and has beaten three 2021 Final Four teams – Gonzaga, which lost the national title game to Baylor, Houston and now Baylor, which had 36 straight wins over non-conference teams until Saturday.

The Tide’s previous four top 25 wins this season were over No. 3 Gonzaga on Dec. 4 in Seattle, No. 14 Houston at home on Dec. 11, No. 14 Tennessee at home on Dec. 29 and No. 13 LSU at home on Jan. 19. Gonzaga is now No. 2, and Houston is No. 7.

Alabama’s only top 25 loss was at home against No. 4 Auburn on Jan. 11. The Tide can pick up another top 25 win on Tuesday when it plays at No. 1 Auburn (20-1, 8-0 SEC) at 9 p.m. eastern on ESPN. Auburn won its 17th straight Saturday with an 86-68 home win over Oklahoma.

Alabama’s other five losses were to Iona on Nov. 25, Memphis on Dec. 14, Davidson, which is No. 25, on Dec. 21, Missouri on Jan. 8 and Mississippi State on Jan. 15. Missouri (8-12, 2-5 SEC), which lost 67-50 at No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday, is near the bottom of the SEC.

“We’ve got to play with the same energy no matter who it is,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We’re at Auburn next. They’re pretty good, so we’ll probably play pretty well. The next team that may be below us in some metrics or record, that’s going to be the question.”

That will not be until Feb. 9 at Ole Miss (11-10, 2-6 SEC), which defeated Kansas State, 67-56, on Saturday. After the Auburn game Tuesday, Alabama on Feb. 5 will host No. 12 Kentucky, which was 16-5 and 6-2 going into its game against No. 5 Kansas on Saturday night.

“We’ve got to get some maturity about us,” Oats said. “We’ve got to play better no matter who the opponent is. We’ve got a chance to make a deep run if we can play our best basketball.”

The Tide did that Saturday.

The Bears (18-3, 6-2 Big 12) couldn’t handle a hot shooting Crimson Tide that was 29 of 49 from the field for 59.2 percent. Baylor allowed a season-high points and gave up 28 more than it was allowing a game (59.3) for 11th in the nation in scoring defense.

“It was our energy,” Oats said. “I really think if we can guard people, we can play with anybody.”

The Tide led by double figures early in the second half and was comfortably ahead for most of the remainder of the game.

“They scored too many points in transition,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Jahvon Quinerly led Alabama with 20 points and five assists. Jaden Shackelford scored 19 with with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Juwan Gary added 15 points off the bench. JD Davison scored 14 points with five assists, and Keon Ellis scored 11.

Jeremy Sochan scored 17 with eight rebounds for Baylor, which got 16 from Adam Flagler, 12 from Matthew Mayer and 10 from Kendall Brown.

 

 

 

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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