Cougars slug it out but come up short at Alabama

The Houston Cougars and Alabama slugged it out in a backyard brawl in Tuscaloosa Saturday night. The Crimson Tide won the game, 83-82. UH came up short after the last possession with a desperation heave from Kyler Edwards as the shot clock wound down, a missed tip-in by Fabian White, a rebound by White, and another tip that appeared to be goaltended by Alabama point guard JD Davison.

Here are two angles of the final play, slowed down and zoomed-in:

From the 2021-22 NCAA Rules Book, it appears that the Davison swat is goaltending.

It should be noted, however, that when the officials did not make the call during the play, that’s it. There is no mechanism to review a judgment call like goaltending.

Kelvin Sampson did not mince words in the first question put to him in the postgame press conference:

“If I was in their shoes, I’d be looking for a goal-tending call too,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said.

Later in his own press conference, Kelvin lamented the play once again.

“You don’t ever look at one play as defining. You shouldn’t do that. The things that we can control we have to do a better job controlling.

“But goshdarnit, that was just disappointing that he didn’t call that. That was disappointing. I felt bad for my kids.”

The ending marred a fantastic, back-and-forth game by two teams that should be playing well into the NCAA Tournament. Alabama has a great offense, crisp passing, and they are physical. You do not see many teams that run as much as they do and play that physically. UH will likely not see that again until the Tournament.

“Our players showed a lot of fight in probably the most physical game we’re going to play in all year,” Oats said. “That’s a hard-nose, hard-playing team.”

Sampson said virtually the same.

“They played so hard tonight in a tough environment with a lot of things going against them over and over and over,” Kelvin said of his Houston players. “And for us to rebound that thing twice and put the ball on the rim and he knocks it off the rim and there’s no call, that’s just a tough way to go down tonight.

“But at the same time, that’s a really, really good team. When I say Alabama’s good, they’re really good.”

Alabama honored legendary beat writer Cecil Hurt who died in November / Courtesy

Marcus Sasser struggled shooting early on but found a way to be the game’s leading scorer (25 points). In transition, Sasser made five of six shots but in offensive sets he could not get going, shooting 3/19. He was 5/5 at the line.

J’Wan Roberts played a monster game, pulling down nine offensive rebounds in just 22 minutes. That’s the same number he’s had in the previous five games. But Roberts was just 1/6 from the FT line after starting the year 10/15. Free throws played a major role in the game, as Alabama shot 20 in the first half while UH attempted only 19 in the game.

Looking at the analytics of the game, each team dominated two of the four factors that coaches such as Sampson and Oats focus on.

Effective Field Goal Rate: eFG% = (.5*3FGM + FGM) / FGA
Alabama – 59% (29.5/50)
Houston – 48.6% (35.5/73)
Turnover Percentage: TO% = TO / Possessions
Alabama – 17.9% (12/67)
Houston – 10% (10/70)
Offensive Rebounding Percentage: OR% = OR / (OR + DRopp)
Houston – 43.8% (21/48)
Alabama – 24.1% (7/29)
Free Throw Rate: FTR = FTA / FGA :
Alabama – 62.0% (31/50)
Houston – 26.0% (19/73)

Houston dominated in turning the Tide over and offensive rebounding but Alabama was better in the two offensive categories.

“We knew that we were not going to beat them with our first shot,” Sampson explained. “We knew offensive rebounding was going to be important.

“That’s something we’ve been good at around here for a long time. And it kept us in the game tonight.”



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