Retin Obasohan hit a driving, twisting layup with six seconds left, and the 'Bama defense came up with a stop, to give the Tide a thrilling 74-73 victory over the 17th-ranked Notre Dame Irish on Sunday. The win was 'Bama's second over a ranked team in the past three days at the Advocare Invitational, giving the Tide its first back-to-back victories over ranked teams in ten years.
Alabama came out hot in the first half, and built a 21-8 lead after having runs of 13-0 and 18-3. Arthur Edwards hit two early corner threes and scored all 15 of his points in the first half to lead the team. The Irish made a run to close the halftime gap to 43-39. Going into the locker room, the Tide was 18-33 for 55%, 4-9 (44%) from three-point range, but had only hit .500 (3-6) from the free throw line at the half.
In the second half, Notre Dame quickly grabbed the lead as the Tide turned the ball over on their first two possessions. The Irish surged to a 49-45 advantage, but the Tide battled through, and never let the Golden Domers stretch the lead beyond four points. Obasohan and Michael Kessens carried the team in the second stanza, and both played their best games of the young season.
Alabama's rotation was shortened with Riley Norris being shelved by an injury after playing only seven minutes (all in the first half,) and Jimmie Taylor and Dazon Ingram both being saddled with foul trouble -- both fouled out early. Three players logged season highs in court time: Obasohan played 39 minutes, Hale logged 34, and Michael Kessens tallied 19 minutes.
Notre Dame held a 73-72 lead with 28.6 seconds when Zach Auguste missed two free throws to give the Tide a chance. 'Bama advanced the ball before coach Avery Johnson called back-to-back timeouts to set up the final play. Obasohan drove the lane and was able to get a tough layup to fall with six seconds left for the 74-73 lead. The Irish pushed the tempo, and instead of taking a time out, drove the length of the floor. Kessens secured the crucial rebound on the ND miss as the clock hit zeroes.
Obasohan and Hale had 19 points each to lead the team. Obasohan added three rebounds, five assists and three steals. Edwards didn't score in the second half and finished with 15. Kessens shot 4-5 and scored eight points, leading the team with nine rebounds. Ingram had four points and five rebounds as his minutes were limited by his foul trouble. Donta Hall played four minutes and had four points and a block. Taylor lasted 19 minutes before fouling out, contributing only three points but grabbing five boards.
Steve Vastoria had 18 points and five rebounds for the Irish, backed up by Auguste with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Demetrius Jackson also had 16 and five boards, V.J. Beachem contributed 13 points. The Tide shot well throughout and ended the game at 54.5% from the field, 35.3% from three and 60% from the free throw line. Notre Dame shot 45%frm the field, 50% from three and 70% from the free throw line. Unusual for this Alabama team hampered by size and a thin young bench, the Tide won the rebounding battle 34-22 after getting beaten badly on the boards throughout the season.
The Tide showed a lot of promise in winning two of three in this tournament over Thanksgiving weekend.
When Albama is playing fast and making shots the Tide can be dangerous. When the shots aren't falling, as against Dayton and Xavier, things can get ugly in a hurry. The defense just isn't there yet. Still, the tough early season schedule should help going forward.
Ingram is a budding star, the enigmatic Hale, when engaged, is a tremendously talented player that can carry the team offensively. Obasohan is the unquestioned leader of the squad, and his athleticism is off the charts in an offense seemingly tailor-made for him. Edwards is a veteran presence, while Kessens is the most talented inside player on the team. Taylor has to learn to stay on the court, and contribute more when he does. Donta Hall is a jumping jack and a terror in blocking shots and rebounding. Riley Norris has been playing well, and hopefully his injury isn't serious. Justin Coleman, the diminutive point guard, has tons of speed, but has been shaky in ball handling, and very inconsistent shooting the ball. Brandin Austin is a shooting guard that has played limited minutes, but has potential to contribute.
Alabama is back in action on Friday, December 4th, at 7p.m. CT against Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. The game will be shown on Fox Sports One. Roll Tide, Buckle up. Follow @rogerpatmyers for live, in game updates