Alabama’s Comeback Falls Short at UCF, 70-64
The Alabama men's basketball team’s second-half comeback fell short to UCF on Thursday night, falling on the road 70-64.
“We got off to a slow start and that was problematic for us,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “It’s hard when you get down big on the road, especially when you are playing against an NCAA-tournament type of team. I was proud of the way we fought back, especially in the second half. They dominated us at the free throw line – they had 36 attempts to our 14. We just fouled too much. I thought our defense overall when we didn’t foul was pretty good.”
The Crimson Tide (5-2) struggled out of the gate offensively, missing 14 of its first 15 shots from the floor to fall in a double-digit deficit midway through the first half. Alabama would finish the game shooting just 37.9 percent from the field (25-of-66) and 20.8 percent from beyond the arc (5-of-24).
UCF (6-1), the preseason favorite to win the American Athletic Conference, took advantage of UA’s slow start and jumped out to a 15-4 lead at the 11:16 mark. The Knights extended their lead to as many as 12 points, 25-13, with 6:49 left in the opening stanza. However, the Tide finished the half on a 12-4 run to cut the UCF advantage to just four points at the break, 29-25.
Alabama continued its solid play and briefly took a lead in the second half on an Alex Reese three-point to give UA its first lead of the game, 36-34, at the 16:57 mark. In all, the Tide’s run of 23-9 stretched halftime and lasted just over nine minutes total.
From there, it was a back-and-forth affair that featured four ties and three lead changes. With the Tide trailing by two, 50-48, with 9:22 left to play, UCF’s B.J. Taylor hit consecutive three-pointers to make it an eight-point game with just under eight minutes remaining. Alabama would again fight back and cut it to two points with just under five minutes left, but the Tide would only score one more basket over the ensuing 3:31.
Three Alabama players registered double-digits in Thursday’s contest. Senior Donta Hall had 11 points and nine rebounds, while freshman Kira Lewis Jr. and Alex Reese both added 14 points.
The Tide outrebounded the Knights, 46-29, but UCF owned a big advantage at the foul line, hitting 23-of-36 from the line compared to Alabama's 9-of-14.
Taylor scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Knights.
Alabama will return to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday, Dec. 4, when it welcomes Georgia State to Coleman Coliseum. That contest is set to tip off at 7 p.m. CT and will be televised on SEC Network+.