The game started ugly, and stayed that way for a while. Wichita State's Ron Baker finally hit the first points with a beautiful three pointer, and a minute later, Retin Obasohan answered with a three pointer of his own. The story of the early quarter of the game was both teams missing shots, but the Shockers getting ALL of the offensive rebounds. However, a lot of those did not seem to be the Shockers out hustling or muscling the Tide, but rather all the bounces going their way. At the end of the half, Wichita State had 11 offensive rebounds to only one from Alabama.
Shannon Hale was the most effective shooter for Alabama in the first half, as he led the Tide with 12 points. Dazon Ingram was actually second on team at that point with six points - all of them off of free throws. After going down by six points, Alabama went on a flurry of dominance the last few minutes of the half to gain a two point lead.
The early parts of the second half felt like Wichita State couldn't miss any three pointers. Alabama would scrap up a few points, and then the Shockers would walk down the court, hit an easy three, wash, rinse, repeat. The lead changed quite a few times, with neither team getting over 5 points of separation from the other. The officiating was pretty bad this game, but it heavily favored Alabama, who was allowed to shoot more free throws than they probably should have been. Finally, Riley Norris and Shannon Hale combined for a trio of three pointers over the course of 5 minutes, getting Alabama in a position to win the game. Then Alabama made just enough free throws at the end of the game to hold onto the win and get the Tide's first victory against a top-25 team since 2011.
Shannon Hale was the best scorer on the team. He hit 20 points on a nice 60% shooting mark. He also hit 2-4 three pointers and 6-7 on his free throws. However, Hale did not seem all that active in the other aspects of the game, and would disappear for long stretches. Riley Norris was next with 12 points off the bench, and most of those came near the end of the game. Like Hale, Norris hit 2-4 three pointers and and was perfect of his free throws, and added a rebound, a steal, and an assist.
Dazon Ingram continues to be one of the most impressive players on the team as a true freshman. He had 11 points, 7 of which came from free throws. He led the team with 8 rebounds, and added a steal and three assists. Ingram did, however, lead the team with five turnovers, and will need to improve on that going forward. Senior Retin Obasohan had a quiet game with only 7 points and an assist, but he played most of the game and didn't make any glaring mistakes. Jimmie Taylor was his normal tall self and was a terrifying presence on defense, but didn't do much on offense. He also only hit 25% of his free throws, but you can tell Coach Johnson has been working on Taylor's shooting form.
Transfer Arthur Edwards plays at full speed at all times, and is extremely aggressive on offense. Unfortunately, he couldn't hit a single shot all game. He did make an impact though, as he was second on the team in both rebounds (5) and assists (2). Justin Coleman, however, was the worst looking player on the team. The tiny point guard was 0-7 on three point shots, and only 1-3 on the rest of his shots. Most his his 3-point attempts were of the wide open variety, and had he only hit 30% of them, Alabama would have won a lot more comfortably.
As a team, Alabama outshot Wichita State by a margin of 40% to 31%, but was out-rebounded 41-30. It was not pretty, and the officials had a big role in this one, but getting the 21 game losing streak to ranked teams monkey off of the Tide's back was huge. On top of that, there wasn't a mid-second half collapse that we have become so accustomed to seeing over the years. The Tide's defense looked really good, and the offense, while struggling to actually make its shots, had some really good looks and movement. This team may not be all that talented, but they are, as the announcers noted, playing to win. And that's all we can ask for. Roll Tide.