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Tide Defeats the Sun Devils

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Riding Levi Randolph's 28 points, Alabama locks the 3rd place spot in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It must have been opposite day. In snapping their 17-game losing streak in courts not named Coleman Coliseum, Alabama played in a game that was pretty much the inverse of everything that happened the night before. Instead of a high scoring contest, both teams really struggled to make the ball actually go through the hoop. Instead of collapsing at the end of the game, Levi Randolph and Alabama toughened in the final few minutes as Arizona State started throwing up desperation shots much earlier than they should have.

The whole team collectively struggled to make even open shots, but played well defensively. Coach Grant started a full court press within the first 5 minutes of the game, which led to Randolph and Retin Obasohan getting steals on back-to-back plays, and Ricky Tarrant missed the basket on both breakaways. Obasohan has some insane hops and had a huge block that got the team excited. Arizona State finally started to miss less shots than the Tide, and took a 30-27 lead into halftime.

On the opening possession of the second half, the Sun Devils managed to grab not one, not two, but THREE offensive rebounds on the same play. This pretty much summed up the Tide's second half efforts, as they only managed to make two shots in the first 7 minutes while Arizona State jumped up to an 8 point lead behind star guard Gerry Blakes' team high 21 points and 9 rebounds. Riley Norris finally ended the drought with a layup and a beautiful 3 pointer. After that, Alabama slowly chipped away the Sun Devils' lead, before Ricky Tarrant finally tied the game at 47-47 with some free throws with 8 and a half minutes left in the game.

Arizona State set moving screens all game, and the Tide players got frustrated with it, charging through a couple of the screens at this point and drawing fouls. The teams traded more sloppiness on offense for a few minutes until Arizona State led at 57-53. Then Levi Randolph got tired of playing around. Including a nasty pull-up jumper that may have broken a Sun Devil ankle at the free throw line, he scored 14 of the last 21 points for Bama before Tarrant made the last two free throws of the game. Arizona State actually made the half court buzzer heave, but it didn't matter other than to make the final score of 76-71 look slightly closer.

Again, this was Levi Randolph's game as he scored a team high 28 points, shooting 62% from the court and is still perfect on the season with free throws. He also led the team with three steals. Ricky Tarrant also had a great game, making 4 of 7 from behind the three point arc, and totaling 21 points on the day. No other player added more than 6 points, and Jimmie Taylor and Justin Coleman actually shot a nice 0% on the day. Norris and Michael Kessens led the team with 5 rebounds each. The Crimson Tide ended with a 42% shooting average from the court, and a phenomenal 89% from the free throw line.

The Sun Devils matched the Tide's offensive ineptitude with a 43% shooting from the court, but only hit 58% of their free throws, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

It was a hard fought defensive game, or a really sloppy offensive game, depending on how you look at things. But regardless, after threatening to collapse early in the game, Randolph and the Tide bristled and showed their mental fortitude in a refreshing, decisive finish against a pretty decent team. Anthony Grant finally has the depth to constantly circulate players the entire game, and the perimeter shooting looks better than I've seen in years. The Tide still does not have a strong inside presence that's been missing ever since the departure of JaMychal Green, and the development of Jimmie Taylor or Michael Kessens into that role could be integral for success going forward. But for now, this is Levi Randolph's team, and boy is he carrying it well.

Roll Tide!

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