TUCSON, Arizona—A win would have been enormous, but losing by 6 on the road in one of the toughest places to play in college basketball isn’t that bad, either.
“We can only learn from this,” Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton said after Saturday’s 88-82 loss to Arizona. “I feel like we’re going to have a whole lot of stuff to break down tomorrow in film.”
Playing its first true road game of the season, Alabama (7-3) committed a season-low 8 turnovers and made 85.7 percent of its free throws, 2 major improvements from previous games. The Crimson Tide gave it away 24 times against Rhode Island on Dec. 6 and entered Saturday shooting 63 percent from the line, among the 20 worst rates in the country.
“That’s a huge check for us,” Alabama coach Anthony Johnson said of the 24-of-28 foul shooting, including 16-of-18 in the second half.
Sexton led the charge at the line, making 15 of 16 free throws as part of his game-high 30 points. He didn’t score in the first 11:44 of the first half but his banked three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Crimson Tide a 40-38 lead, then after halftime dropped another 21.
“Early in the game I just had to get a feel for what type of defense they were going to do,” Sexton said. “In the second half Coach just said to attack more.”
Alabama led by 6 early in the second half before its defense and lack of rebounding did it in. The Tide committed 17 fouls in the second half and were outrebounded 43-30 overall.
“When you shoot 38 percent you have to get more than (6) offensive rebounds,” Johnson said.
Alabama has one game left before SEC play, on Dec. 19 against Mercer in Huntsville, which made Saturday the only chance to get a feel for a hostile atmosphere like it got from the 14,644 fans at McKale Center.
“We needed a game like this, we needed a true road game against someone that we still consider to be one of the top five teams in the country,” Johnson said.
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