It was all laid out to be a perfect day for Alabama Basketball.

A sellout crowd.

A championship celebration that had the town buzzing, despite the frigid temperatures.

The appearance of a mega-star in the making, in Ben Simmons.

And a team hungry for a win.

It almost happened.

But it didn’t.

Avery Johnson’s Alabama Crimson Tide is good enough, on its best day, to play with anybody in the country this year. Granted, this college basketball season is devoid of an unbeatable team. Still, the Tide has shown that they are capable of rising to the occasion, and playing far beyond the level most (including myself) thought was possible.

There is also such a slim margin for error with this group, that, if they play below that standard, they are capable of being beaten soundly – if not downright embarrassed.

The Tide was in danger of getting blown out in the first half. Simmons & Company (and LSU is more than just the guaranteed No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft) were up 8, with things rolling their way.

But as they have done almost every time this season, Alabama quickly fought back into it before intermission.

The second half saw the energy from the crowd grow, along with a belief that Bama could pull off the upset – as it had against Wichita State, Notre Dame, Clemson, and South Carolina.

The opportunity was certainly there. A ridiculously deep trey by Retin Obasohan gave the Tide a three-point lead with about 3:00 to play. But Simmons did what stars do. He immediately answered back with an And-one, and ultimately Tim Quarterman would give the Tigers the lead.

Obasohan had one more shot. An opportunity to tie. Late.

It almost happened.

But it didn’t.

The outcome was disappointing - just like Auburn, a few days before. But there is still a spirit of excitement among Crimson Tide fans, because there is a belief in Johnson, and what he is building in Tuscaloosa.

It won’t be overnight.

But it will happen.