It’s really hard to keep track of all the peaks and valleys of Alabama’s basketball season. Here’s a shot at pulling it all together on the day of the Tide’s regular-season finale.
TUSCALOOSA — It couldn’t have gotten much darker for the Alabama basketball team a few weeks back. Losses and suspensions were compounded by injuries.
The season was nearing disaster.
Then came the dawn — except it wasn’t a sudden turn. The Crimson Tide’s rebirth didn’t involve a drastic shift, and two weeks after losing its second straight game, Alabama’s on the verge of recapturing the early-season magic.
A win at 3 p.m. today at Ole Miss (17-12, 7-8 SEC) would be its fifth straight to close the regular season. It would likely secure a first-round bye in next week’s SEC tournament and further solidify the program’s first NCAA tournament bid in six seasons.
So, what’s the secret to the turnaround from potentially crippling suspensions to the team’s top two scorers?
“They’re completely unselfish,” said Jon Rothstein, a college basketball analyst for CBS. “Sometimes, adversity is opportunity. With Tony Mitchell no longer a part of the basketball team, it opens up opportunities for other people to produce.”
The other guys have Alabama (20-9, 9-6) on its longest winning streak since November. Victories averaging 11.5-point margins over Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Auburn have the Tide’s RPI rating in the top 30.
Pending a collapse, that should be strong enough to put coach Anthony Grant’s re-tooled Tide in line for the long-awaited return to the NCAA. Rothstein said he didn’t think it was possible two weeks ago, but said Alabama is “in good shape right now.”
The recent turn for the better took a much different look than the seven-game streak that opened the season and had Alabama ranked as high as 12th.
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