Anthony Grant questions ‘passion, purpose’ in listless loss

AP photo

Surely you already know what happened in Oxford yesterday. Now read the story behind the game as seen in today’s newspaper. Buy one while you’re at it.

OXFORD, Miss. — Only a few arena workers remained when coach Anthony Grant exited the Alabama locker room 33 minutes after the final buzzer.

His tie was gone. He glare was strong.

The Crimson Tide just lost its regular-season finale 60-51 at Ole Miss and its shot at a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. Grant was ticked. He didn’t hide it.

“My job as a coach is to make sure my guys are prepared to play,” he said in a brief postgame interview. “I didn’t a very good job of getting the team ready to go.”

The Tide’s four-game winning streak ended, Grant said, because “passion and purpose” didn’t make the bus trip to Oxford. His team shot a season-low 22.2 percent (6-for-27) from the field in the first half, and never got closer than four in the second.

With it, Alabama (20-10, 9-7) also lost its shot at a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. Entering the day in a tie with Tennessee for the No. 4 seed, a Vol win and Tide loss left Alabama fifth in the league. A 2:30 p.m. Thursday meeting with last-place South Carolina awaits Alabama in New Orleans.

For a team riding the high of a late-season revival and near assurance of an NCAA bid, Saturday’s regression was especially disappointing to its most veteran players.

Senior JaMychal Green called the performance “lackadaisical.” Fourth-year junior Andrew Steele saw the same.

“There’s more we could have done coming in to get ourselves’ ready for the game,” he said. “Even through all that, I felt like we had a chance to win.”

Ole Miss (18-12, 8-8) let the visitors hang around with poor free-throw shooting. The Rebels were 11-of-26 late in the second half before making enough down the stretch to finish 16-of-34 (47.1 percent).

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