Coming off a gut-wrenching loss on the road against Wichita State, and facing a stretch of five games in nine days, the Alabama Crimson Tide needed an easy game. The Tide got that on Friday night, hosting crosstown, and Division II foe, Stillman in Coleman Coliseum. 'Bama rested starters Ricky Tarrant and Rodney Cooper all together, and started all three members of their vaunted freshman class. Riley Norris and Devin Mitchell received the first starts of their careers, and were joined by fellow freshman Justin Coleman, senior Levi Randolph and sophomore Jimmie Taylor. The Tide never trailed, were never threatened, and won 69-49. The win left 'Bama with a 7-3 record, while Stillman dropped to 4-4.
Coleman led the way with a career high 14 points and Norris notched a career high with 13 points. Randolph and Shannon Hale also both scored 13, while Jimmie Taylor added 12 with a game high nine rebounds. Hale also grabbed eight rebounds, Norris grabbed seven boards as Michael Kessens contributed five, to go with two points. Dakota Slaughter and Mitchell both played career high minutes, with 15 each. Slaughter scored two points and Mitchell failed to score, going 0-5 from behind the three-point line.
Maurice Crenshaw led the Tigers with 13 points and was joined in double figures by Rodnerius Lewis with 10. Jamon Jackson-Wilson was their rebounding leader with seven, and scored eight points. Stillman shot 19-58 (32.8%) from the field, 4-16 (25%) from the three point line and a terrible 7-17 (41%) from the free throw line. 'Bama was 25-58 (43%) from the field and a miserable 3-20 (15%) from the three point line, and 16-24 (67%) from the free throw line. The Tide had a 45-40 edge on the boards, against the much smaller Tigers.
In the last three games the Tide has held their opponents to 53, 53 and now 49 points, showing better intensity and effort on the defensive end. Taylor is becoming a force in the middle, and blocked three more shots tonight. Coleman and Retin Obasohan used their quickness to secure three steals each.
After the game Coach Anthony Grant lauded his teams "effort and energy on defense" and stated that having "the young guys starting, led to some offensive rust" but that "the defensive effort eventually paid off in some easy baskets." Grant said that Tarrant and Copper were "just resting, since we will have five games in nine days" and stated that Tarrant has been "a little banged up, and played a bunch of minutes vs Wichita State" and added that Cooper has been "dealing with some tendonitis, so we took this opportunity to get them some rest, and get some of the other guys some extra minutes."
Grant went on to say of Taylor, "Jimmie is just starting to realize how good he can be, what he is capable of. He reminds me a lot of a guy we had at VCU, Larry Sanders. They both came in as rebounders and defenders, but are sponges, that want to learn, and Larry became a very good all around player. Jimmie is the same type guy and as he gains confidence, and his teammates gain confidence in him, he will develop on the offensive end."
'Bama has a quick turn around, hosting Appalachian State on Sunday at 5:30 p.m., in a game that will be televised on the SEC Network. The team will have a Saturday practice to prepare. After a few days off for Christmas, UCLA will come to town for a showdown on Sunday, December 28th, another 5:30 p.m. game that will be televised on ESPNU. The UCLA game will give the Tide an opportunity for a name brand win before starting conference play. With the next four games at home, 'Bama has a chance to have an 11-3 record before hitting the road for games at Tennessee and South Carolina.
After the disappointment of Tuesday's loss at Wichita State, a lot of people are wanting to give up on this team. I feel that will be a mistake, as they have a lot to play for, and good talent and depth. Let's not throw dirt on them before they are dead. RTR Support Bama Basketball.
Roll Tide Yall