January 17, 2007

REIER: Tide defenseless in 1-2 league start

There was talk back in November of this Alabama basketball team being a legitimate Final Four contender. Two months later, the Crimson Tide sits at 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play and even the most optimistic crimson-clad supporter is no longer talking national championship.

And it's not so much the fact that Mark Gottfried's club is looking up at the .500 mark three games into the league slate that has the faithful worried. It's that in eighty minutes of road games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt, the Tide was defenseless for more than an hour.

For the ninth time since 1991, UA paid a visit to Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday night. By halftime it was fairly clear that this trip would end the same way as the eight before it. From the Alabama baseline of college basketball's wackiest court configuration, the Commodores, with forward Shan Foster doing his best Craig Hodges impersonation from 3-point range, may as well have been the Chicago Bulls of the 90's.

Even if you write off the Vandy defeat as one team having another team's number in a particular venue, it's hard to ignore the trend that has surfaced when looking at the Tide's three losses this season.

In taking out Alabama by double-digits, Notre Dame and Arkansas each shot 51 percent from the field in posting 99 and 88 points, respectively. In raining down 54 first-half points on the Tide tonight, Vanderbilt shredded the nets at a 67 percent clip.

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