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Bama Basketball Off to a 3-0 Start

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Alabama used a hot start by Levi Randolph to defeat Southern Miss 81-62 on Thursday night in Coleman Coliseum. Randolph scored 23 points to lead the Tide in scoring for the third straight game.

This is clearly Levi Randolph's team, the senior captain has lead the team in all three games this season
This is clearly Levi Randolph's team, the senior captain has lead the team in all three games this season
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide has started the season 3-0 after defeating Southern Mississippi 81-67 on Thursday in Tuscaloosa. The Tide has scored 80 points or more in all three games for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Senior captain Levi Randolph once again lead the team in scoring with 23. Randolph started hot, helping the team hit its first nine shots. The Huntsville native scored 12 of the team's first 16 points, and 15 of the first 26. The Golden Eagles dropped to 2-1 on the young season.

'Bama carried a 38-30 lead into halftime, with Randolph tallying 18 of the 38 points. Eventually, Bama cooled off a bit from its hot start, but still shot 59% for the half (13-22) including 41% (5-12) from three point range. Overall the team was 28-49 from the field for 57% and 9-19 (47%) from three point range, and hit 16 of 21 free throws for 76%. Defensively the Tide held the Golden Eagles to 22-53 (41%) and 8-29 (27%) from the three point line. 'Bama won the rebounding battle by a big 36-22 margin.

Randolph added seven rebounds to his 23 points and threw in two assists and a steal in 32 minutes of action, shooting 8-12 including 3-4 on three pointers. He also hit all four of his free throws, and is now 15-15 on the season from the charity stripe. As hot as Randolph was early, Ricky Tarrant was just as good late. The Tulane transfer came off the bench to play 23 minutes and score 18 points by shooting 6-8 from the field, 3-4 from long range and 3-4 from the free throw line.

Southern Miss was led by Matt Bingaya with 19 points. Norville Carey came off the bench to score 17 points and lead the team with five rebounds.

For the third time in three games 'Bama had a player record a double-double. Shannon Hale followed Randolph and Jimmie Taylor by scoring 12 points and grabbing a team high 11 rebounds. Justin Coleman just missed double digits with nine points, and added three assists in 25 minutes. Michael Kessens only played 11 minutes before fouling out, but managed to score eight points and grab two rebounds. Taylor scored six with three rebounds and three blocked shots in 28 minutes of action.

The Tide played 12 players, with 10 of them logging at least 11 minutes. The depth is showing and allows the team to play more of a full court game that Coach Anthony Grant favors. The players are fresher, and there is not a big drop off in talent when substitutions occur.

'Bama has started the same five, Randolph, Hale,Taylor, Coleman and Rodney Cooper, but continues to mix and match different combinations depending on situations, match ups, and foul trouble. Once again PGs Tarrant and Coleman were on the court together for several minutes, as were big men Taylor and Kessens. The team can go big, go small, or go medium. a luxury an Anthony Grant coached 'Bama team has not had in his tenure at the Capstone.

Thus far the Tide has looked confident had a much better rhythm on offense than we saw last season, while maintaining the patented Grant defensive intensity. 'Bama may not hold teams to scores in the 50's like they have for the past few years, but that is more a product of the offense. Shooting earlier in the clock leads to more possessions for the opposition, thus more shots, and more points.  While last year's squad had a nasty habit of passing the ball around the perimeter then launching a desperation heave as the shot clock expired, this team is taking open shots confidently while passing the ball much crisper and with purpose.The days of the big man setting screens at the top of the key, a harken back to the UCLA high-post offense of yesteryear, seem to be over. Instead they are where they belong - in rebounding position, not 20 feet from the basket as a spectator.

All in all, the Tide is off to a 3-0 start. While the quality of the opponents played to date may not excite a lot of people, one big key to making the NCAA tournament is to avoid bad losses. The Tide has not been able to do that in November and December the last few seasons, but have thus far this year. We will learn a lot more about the team next week as it heads to Kansas City for the CBE Hall of Fame Classic on Monday and Tuesday.The Tide takes on Iowa State in the first game at 8:30 p.m. CST Monday on ESPN2, then follows that with either Arizona State or Maryland on Tuesday night.

Roll Tide Yall

Roger

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UP NEXT:

vs.

ALABAMA vs. Iowa State

(CBE Hall Of Fame Classic)
Day:
Monday
Date:
Nov. 24, 2014
Location:
Kansas City, Mo.
Time:
8:30 p.m. CT
Network:
ESPN2