Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Cold Paladins suffer first loss at Alabama

Jordan Lyons had 33 points, including 31 in the second half, but Furman
fell to Alabama, 81-73, Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of Furman
The Furman basketball team has put up plenty of signature wins over the last few years, but one that has eluded the Paladins has been on an Southeastern Conference floor. A cold shooting night Tuesday at Alabama allowed another of those chances to slip away.

Furman saw a six-point second half lead disappear under a mountain of missed field goals as the Crimson Tide pulled away for an 81-73 victory. The Paladins (4-1) shot 30.9 percent from the floor Tuesday to fall to 20-3 in their last 23 non-conference games. Those other two losses came at Tennessee and LSU.

"Give those guys credit. They made plays down the stretch and they responded when we had the lead up six," Furman coach Bob Richey said in his postgame interview on the Furman Radio Network. "Our guys played with extreme toughness tonight. ... I thought we fought and the effort was great, but this will always be a make-or-miss game. You've got to keep people from making and you've got to go make.
"Overall, I thought our shot quality was really good, but at the end of the day - especially on a court like this in an environment like this, you've got be able to ring the bell."

In a pretty sloppy first half in which Furman forced 14 turnovers but scored only eight points off of them, Alabama held a 34-31 lead. After scoring just two points in the first half, Jordan Lyons got the Paladins rolling out of the locker room after halftime. Lyons' game-tying 3-pointer 18 seconds into the second half started an 11-2 run. Lyons had eight points in that spurt, capping it with another 3-pointer, as Furman took a 42-36 lead with 17:22 left.

The Paladins could not build on that lead, however, as they simply couldn't buy a bucket. They missed 12 consecutive field goals before Lyons hit a 3-pointer with 10:46 left. He made a jumper 50 seconds later to tie the game. After a technical foul was called on Alabama coach Nate Oats, Lyons drained a pair of free throws to give Furman a 52-50 lead.

Then it was another cold spell for the Paladins, as it hit just one of its next 10 shots over a span of 7:15. That allowed Alabama to take its biggest lead at 12 points with less than three minutes remaining.

Furman didn't quit though. Lyons hit three consecutive 3-pointers - one of which turned into a four-point play - in a span of 16 seconds to cut the Tide's lead to 78-73 with 47 seconds left, but the Paladins couldn't get any closer. Alabama (2-2) hit 9-of-10 free throws over the final 1:18 to seal the win.

"They (Alabama) had an enormous amount of length out there and what they were trying to do was take our layups, post play and drives to the rim away and just make us shoot from the edges," Richey said. "If we make them, I think we come out the victor, but unfortunately tonight we didn't.
"We've got to find ways to get better. Effort isn't enough in this game. We're not walking out of here disappointed and discouraged, but at the same time, we've got to walk out of here hungry to figure out what we have to do to improve."

Lyons had 31 of Furman's 42 second half points to finish with a season-high 33. He also had four assists, including two on the three field goals hit by other Paladins in the second half. Clay Mounce was the only other Paladin in double figures with 13 points in a full 40 minutes. Alex Hunter had team-highs in rebounds (eight) and assists (six) and no turnovers once again. In 161 minutes played this season, Furman's junior point guard has yet to commit a turnover.

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