When their jump shots aren’t falling, Crimson Tide can rely on grit to win

    The common consensus around this Alabama basketball program under head coach Nate Oats is that the team “lives and dies by the three.” Wednesday night, that assumption took a bit of a hit.

    The No. 13 Crimson Tide downed No. 24 Florida 98-93 in overtime on Wednesday and Alabama did it without the long-range shooting advantage to which the team has become accustomed. 

    In fact, despite averaging 38% as a team from beyond the arc on the second-most attempts in the nation this season, Alabama struggled from distance by any measure. After a disastrous 2-for-18 performance on three-pointers in the first half, Alabama’s shooters rallied, though the team still only shot 25% from distance for the game. 

    In contrast, Florida made one more 3-pointer on two fewer attempts.

    So how did the Tide hold off a talented Florida team that will almost definitely be dancing come March? They did almost everything else right.

    From the free-throw line, Alabama shot 80% as a team and on the glass, the Tide grabbed 10 more boards than a Gator squad known as an elite rebounding unit.

    The players also never seemed to lose their cool despite playing much of the game from behind and frequently losing momentum just as they would nearly pull even with the Gators. 

    Instead of long shots, the players focused Alabama’s other offensive emphasis: Shooting in the paint. And boy, did Alabama live at the rim. Dunk after dunk kept the crowd at Coleman Coliseum in the game, including a monster slam from Grant Nelson, who led the Tide with 22 points on the night.

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