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Game Recap: Alabama 73 #15/19 South Carolina 50

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Tide improves to 3-2 vs Ranked Opponents in Avery Johnson's first year.

Norris's career day lifts Tide to huge win
Norris's career day lifts Tide to huge win
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the University of Alabama beat a previously undefeated team from the Palmetto state.

Riley Norris filled the role of OJ Howard in this analogy by having an unexpected brilliant performance, eventually tying Mykal Riley's school record for most 3-pointers made in a game with eight. Wednesday's game even featured appearances by Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, and Reggie Ragland.

However one thing lacked from this game that Monday's National Championship had from start to finish. Drama. It would easily become the most impressive performance of the young Avery Johnson era.

The Tide unveiled a new starting lineup for the Gamecocks, featuring Riley Norris over Justin Coleman to give the lineup some extra size. Needless to say it worked to perfection as Norris would score 15 of Alabama's 19 points, which would be only the tip of the iceberg for the Sophomore. The move to the bench for Coleman now gives Alabama a nice 1-2 punch of the bench in he and Shannon Hale.

The bigger lineup also helped Alabama become more competitive on the boards, which has been this teams kryptonite so far this year. Early on it was evident that the coaching staff made rebounding and ball movement a point of emphasis for this game and the players responded. Bama's ball movement in the first half would've made Gregg Popovich proud, notching 11 assists on 13 made baskets.

Riley Norris's big first half wasn't the end, it was the beginning.

The swingman from Albertville would start off the second half splashing a few more 3's home and would make sure the game was never truly in doubt, finishing with a career high 27 points. He sparked this team on a night where Retin Obasohan wasn't able to provide his usual offensive production due to harassing Frank Martin's backcourt the whole night.

Alabama was spot on when it comes to perhaps the two most important categories in modern basketball: shooting the three and defending the three. Alabama would finish 13-28 from downtown while holding the Gamecocks to 3-18. That will equal a lopsided victory every single night and Wednesday would be no exception as Avery Johnson cruised to his 1st win in conference play.

The Tide really couldn't have afforded to lose this game in the middle of a brutal opening stretch to open the SEC season. To make the NCAA tournament you've got to make the most of your opportunities at home and Alabama did just that, picking up yet another big resume win.

It will be interesting to see if Coach Johnson goes back with the big lineup Saturday at Vanderbilt and going forward, from my point of view it gives this team the best chance to stay competitive on the boards while maintaining some punch off the pine. Things certainly won't get easier for this group heading to Memorial Gym on Saturday, but the team we saw Wednesday is more than up for that challenge.