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Take Three: Alabama bounced out of NIT with overtime loss to Norfolk State

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball’s season came to an end Wednesday night as it suffered an 80-79 overtime loss to Norfolk State in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament. The Crimson Tide finished its season at 18-16 after losing five of its final six games.

Alabama was once again haunted by its familiar faults. The Crimson Tide turned the ball over 16 times resulting in 21 points the other way. Despite holding a distinct size advantage, Alabama was outrebounded 49-45, allowing Norfolk State to pull down 21 offensive rebounds which led to 22 second-chance points.

Herbert Jones nearly kept Alabama alive with a team-high 18 points, including 6 points in overtime. The sophomore forward hit a 3 with 6.1 remaining to cut Norfolk State’s lead to 80-79. Alabama then got the ball back as Norfolk State lost the ball on the ensuing inbound. However, Riley Norris’ final shot inside Coleman fell short off the iron, putting the cap on a disappointing season.

Here are three takes from the game:

More of the same

This game described this season perfectly with how Alabama played throughout the entire game. Turnovers, poor energy, and lack of rebounding. This season has been thoroughly disappointing, so it is no surprise that it ended with disappointment for coach Johnson and the Tide.

It was an up and down game for both teams, as there were two different runs by both teams that shaped the entire game. It was a lull offensively to begin the game with Alabama jumping out to a 16-8 lead 7 minutes into the game. Norfolk St came back with an 8-0 run to tie the game three minutes later. With 3 minutes left in the half, Norfolk St led 22-21 after a layup by Steven Whitley, but Alex Reese caught fire with five 3-pointers in the final four minutes to take a 35-28 lead into the half.

It was a 40-30 lead by Alabama with 17:41 to go in the game, but Norfolk St went on a 15-1 run to make it 45-41 Norfolk St. From that point on, neither team had a larger lead than 4. Norfolk St had 22 second-chance points and 21 offensive rebounds heading into the final minute of the game. That is surprising based on the size difference of the two teams.

Norfolk St held a 67-64 lead with 30 seconds left until John Petty hit a clutch step-back 3 point shot to tie the game at 67-67. Norfolk St had a chance to make it 24 second-chance points with a point-blank put-back at the end of regulation to end the game, but it rolled off the side of the rim. In overtime, Norfolk St played with great energy turning the Tide over 3 times and scoring 4 points off those turnovers.

At the end of the game, it is an 80-79 Norfolk St victory as Norfolk St held on in overtime. Alabama finished with 16 turnovers and Norfolk St finished with 21 points off those turnovers. Norfolk St had 22 second-chance points on 21 offensive rebounds against a much taller team. Those were the two differences in the game, and honestly, the difference in the season.

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