No. 2 Alabama Falls in Overtime; Eliminated in Sweet 16
The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide was upset in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament by the No. 11 seeded UCLA Bruins 88-78. Alabama was attempting to make the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004. Alabama was able to force the game into overtime but was unable to overcome poor shooting to keep its historic season alive.
Alabama struggled to open the game falling behind 7-1 in the games first four minutes. Alabama was derailed early with senior Herb Jones picking up two offensive fouls in the game's first two possessions.
A pair of Keon Ellis and Jordan Bruner 3-point shots got the Crimson Tide going and tied the contest. Both sides battled back and forth until the Bruins turned a 22-23 deficit into a 40-29 halftime lead.
The No. 11 seeded Bruins run end-of-half run was fueled by junior guards Jules Bernard and David Singleton as Bernard made three 3-point shots and Singleton converted two from beyond the arc.
Alabama came out of the locker room and immediately put its third rated defensive efficiency on display, holding UCLA scoreless for first six minutes of the second half. The Tide's 11-0 run was driven by senior guard John Petty who scored seven of his 16 points to even up the score.
Both teams battled through the second half for the right to advance to the Elite 8. With the score tied at 60, UCLA's sophomore guard Johnny Juzang fouled out with 2:27 left in the game after scoring 13 points and securing four rebounds.
Alabama took a 1-point lead into the game's final minute, UCLA's Jaimie Jaquez Jr. drew the fifth foul on Alabama forward Juwan Gary. Jaquez went 1-for-2 from the free throw line to tie the game at 61 with 45 seconds on the clock.
Subsequently the SEC Player of the Year and unrivaled senior leader, Herb Jones had an opportunity to take the game for the Crimson Tide but only converted 1-of-4 of his late game free-throw opportunities putting Alabama behind the eight-ball. The missed opportunities at the charity stripe allowed the Bruins to take a three-point lead with short time remaining.
With four seconds left in regulation the senior from Pelham, Alex Reese would step up and make the biggest shot of his Alabama career. Reese took the pass from Jahvon Quinerly and made a game-tying 3-point shot from the top of the key sending the game into overtime. The bucket was his first made basket of the contest after the senior was hampered in the game with a hip issue.
Alabama was not its usual self offensively speaking shooting 25% from the 3-point line and managing just 11-for-25 from the free-throw line.
UCLA outscored the Crimson Tide 14-7 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinals, the Bruins' victory guarantees the Pac-12 three teams in the Elite 8 round. UCLA's Singleton scored seven points in the extra period and Jaquez scored five to end the Crimson Tide's season.
Quinerly led Alabama offensively with 20 points, three rebounds and three assists, Petty scored 16 points and had five rebounds, Keon Ellis tallied 10 points and nine rebounds with three steals.
Alabama won the SEC regular season and conference tournament for the first time since 1987 and earned its highest NCAA Tournament seed in program history in head coach Nate Oats' second season. Oats is working on another impressive recruiting class and will likely retain key talent from this year's team. The future is bright for the Crimson Tide basketball program.