Alabama was picked to finish 13th in the SEC in the preseason.
Now, midway through February, the Tide is firmly on the bubble.
Avery Johnson’s group became the first SEC team in over a year to defeat Florida at home, winning 61-55. Retin Obasohan led the team in scoring with 15 points, but fouled out with over five mintues remaining. That means the Tide had to hold on without their offensive leader at the end, and they did so rather easily.
Jimmie Taylor was terrific for the Tide, locking down the paint on defense and rarely allowing the Gators a free look at the rim inside. He blocekd five shots and also put up 11 points, including this massive slam on Gator 7-footer John Egbunu.
Alabama center Jimmie Taylor drops the pic.twitter.com/hXhtplOh0Y
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) February 14, 2016
That’s one heck of a throwdown from a guy who is building a decent case for the SEC’s defensive player of the year award in what has been a down year on that end in the league.
The win moves Alabama to 15-9 on the season, and thrusts it firmly onto the bubble due to its five top-50 wins, two of which have come on the road and two of which were on a neutral floor. It’s a remarkably impressive opening season for Johnson, who came in amid a bit of skepticism as to whether or not he would have success in dealing with college kids or in recruiting.
If I was the SEC, I’d be pretty worried right now about what the Tide is building down in Alabama. Not only is Johnson having success with one of the low-end rosters in the SEC, but he also has built a really strong recruiting class featuring five-star wing Terrence Ferguson, four-star wing Braxton Key, and another really solid JUCO kid in Ar’Mond Davis.
This program looks to be in pretty solid shape, and could make a run to the NCAA Tournament a year early.