It’s hard to blame the ticketholders for missing the consolation game between Alabama and Oregon Saturday morning – beach weather was in full effect for the game between the two big-name opponents many expected to play each other in the Emerald Coast Classics Championship game.
Sitting in the front row – a little girl, Mila, holds a sign that says ‘#22 we love you.’ Mila and her father traveled with Oregon’s #22, Jadrian Tracey’s brother to watch him play for the Ducks. Jadrian, a Ft. Myers native, played for Southwestern State College and St. Joseph’s in New York State – before transferring to Oregon for this year.
“She had to make 5,000 baskets to come today,” Mila’s father, Dwayne Jackson, said, “she made the final 500 the day we left.”
Jadrian’s brother, Jacob, said he loved watching his brother play live – even if it was just for a few games. “I’m just excited just to see him out there doing what he does. And I’m doing really proud of him to see him out there. I know he came a long way,” Jacob said about his brother.
Tracy would end the day with six points and an assist.
Bama, the ranked contender, would separate through solid defense (that gave up half the free throw opportunities Oregon’s defense would). At the same time, it pressed the Ducks at critical intervals throughout the game.
Both Alabama and Oregon started the game with rockets in their shoes. Oregon’s Keyshawn Barthalémy slashed through the perimeter defense for a couple of mid-range jumpers and layups – allowing the Ducks to stay close despite the sheer volume of three-point shots Alabama threw up.
‘Bama initiated a full-court press several times throughout the half – with some varying success in causing turnovers. The Bama D’s real victory in the first half was playing ball – while keeping the Ducks away from the free throw line.
High-percentage free throw shooting from Alabama bolstered the offensive mettle for the Tide – shooters got six for fourteen three-pointers as well to keep the Defending SEC Champions slightly ahead as the half wound down.
Oregon only got to the line once in the first half and went one for two. They’d briefly wrest control of the lead from the Tide a couple of times during the half, but Alabama would look the better team, especially when it came to overall shooting and defensive performance.
At the half – the Tide would lead the Ducks with authority: 47-39.
Bama would continue where they left off in the first half – taking judicious three-pointers, mixing it up in the paint, grabbing jumpers from mid-range when possible, and making their free throws.
Efficiency would separate the two farther as the game continued. The Tide would shoot 95% from the free throw line – and keep the Ducks’ chances to shoot baskets from the free throw line down.
The Ducks would mount a late rally, much like they did in their game against the Santa Clara Broncos on Friday Night. Behind the shooting of Jermaine Cousinard and Mohamedu XXX, the squad would narrow the difference from fifteen points to six.
But like Friday night, the Ducks would fall short, going 0-2 at the Emerald Coast Classic and give Alabama a face-saving win as a ranked team in the tournament.
Final Score: A 99-91 win for the Crimson Tide.
Former Northwest Florida State College MVP Brennan Rigsby would contribute to the bottom line before the final buzzer. He’d finish with X points, an assist, and a rebound on the night.
The Ducks will play at home against the Michigan Wolverines in their next contest on December 2nd.
The Tide will play in the ACC/SEC challenge on November 28th against Clemson.
If the past is any indicator, the Emerald Coast Classic promoter will announce the teams playing in the tenth annual Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville at the end of April.