There will be many firsts during coach Avery Johnson's tenure at Alabama. First victory-check, first victory over a ranked team-check, back to back wins over ranked teams-check. And the first true road win? Check. The Tide held on to defeat Southern Miss in Hattiesburg on Friday night by a score of 58-55.
Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards, without much help from their teammates, led the Crimson Tide to a much closer than expected 58-55 victory over Southern Miss on Friday night in Hattiesburg. Obasohan scored a season high 20 points and Edwards, the graduate transfer from New Mexico, poured in 17.
The first half was a back and forth affair with neither team able to get in a rhythm and forge a comfortable lead. Edwards was the early spark for the Tide, hitting two early threes, but he picked up a technical foul after the second make for whooping at the Eagle bench. Coach Avery Johnson rewarded Edwards with a seat on the bench to think about his transgression. The Tide had no inside baskets in the half. It appeared that the Tide would carry a lead in to the half when the Eagles' Khari Price threw in a 75 foot three pointer at the buzzer for a 30-29 USM lead.
'Bama came out in the second half intent on at least penetrating the lane, and kicking the ball out for a good look if nothing was available down low. USM did an outstanding job all night of keeping the Tide away from the basket, making them a jump shooting team. In fact of Alabama's 40 shots in the game, 29 of them came from three point range. When 'Bama hits those shots, they can be dangerous. But when they don't, things can get dicey.
Southern Miss held their last lead at 39-37 with 15 minutes left in the game. Shannon Hale hit a couple of threes, and Edwards added another of his own. At that point Retin Obasohan took over as he hit back to back threes and a short jumper to put the Tide up by 10 with 7:10 left in the game, at 53-43. 'Bama only scored five more points the rest of the game, turned the ball over several times, and missed some free throws to keep the Eagles in the game.
The Tide stumbled to the finish line, missing four free throws in the final minute, giving Southern Miss an opportunity to tie the game. The Eagles rebounded with 8.7 seconds left and missed two good looks at three to potentially push the game to overtime, but both missed the mark as the clock ran out.
Obasohan continues to be the leader of the team, scoring 20 points, adding five rebounds, three steals, two assists and a steal in a fine all-around game. Edwards was 6-9 shooting (5-8 from three) and had five rebounds to go with his 17 points. Hale added nine points on 3-10 shooting. Justin Coleman had seven points with two rebounds and three assists. Dazon Ingram scored five, and was the only other player to score in the game. Jimmie Taylor played 14 minutes and gathered four rebounds, and that was all, no points, blocks, assists, or even fouls. Michael Kessens played 24 minutes and had one rebound, one assist and two blocks, with no points. Riley Norris played 21 minutes and had one rebound and two steals, with no points, but had a key jumpball tie-up. Donta Hall played six minutes grabbing three rebounds, with no points. Brandon Austin played sparingly but did not score.
Price led the Eagles with 16 and was joined in double figures by Eddie Davis with 11 points, and led the team with eight rebounds. Michael Rainey added eight points.
For the game the Tide was 17-40 for 42%, and 11-29 from three for 37%. The Tide won at the free throw line hitting 13-18 despite the late game woes. 'Bama grabbed 28 rebounds and dished out 12 assists and committed 17 turnovers, with six blocks and five steals. USM shot 21-58 for 36% and was also 11-29 from three point range. The Eagles only shot four free throws, making two for 50%.
No way to spin it, this was an ugly win. However, it would have been a much uglier as a loss against a very bad team. USM is reeling from the fallout of Coach Donnie Tyndall's regime, which placed them on probation. The Tide has to get some production from the inside players to have success. Zero points with eight combined rebounds from the three post players will typically get you blown out. However the team showed intestinal fortitude to gut out the victory.
With exams set to begin next week the team will be off until Sunday, December 13 when they travel to South Carolina to take on the Clemson Tigers in a game scheduled for 5 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Roll Tide, Buckle Up
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[EDITOR'S NOTE: The Tide had ONE offensive rebound. Unacceptable.]