It was a tale of two halves for the Alabama basketball team on Friday night. After trailing 33-27 at the half, the Tide outscored Coastal Carolina 43-20 in the second stanza to pull away. The Tide shot a dismal 8-26 (30%) in the first half, but bounced back with a 13-22 (59%) second half.
Graduate transfer Corbin Collins was the leading scorer for 'Bama with 15 points in a team-high 31 minutes. Riley Norris scored 14 points in 29 minutes and Dazon Ingram followed in double digits with 11 points in 29 minutes.
After a lethargic first half filled with late shot-clock three-point attempts, the Tide came out and forced the ball inside to Jimmie Taylor to begin the second. Taylor only made one field goal, but got to the free throw line for six attempts, hitting three, right at his typical percentage. The Greensboro big man grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots, and added two steals and two assists.
Coach Avery Johnson started Norris, Ingram, Collins, Taylor and Shannon Hale to begin the game. In the second half graduate transfer Bola Olaniyan replaced Hale in the starting five to try and help the Tide stem the big rebounding advantage that the Chanticleers forged at the break. Olaniyan finished with six points and four rebounds in 13 foul plagued minutes. Hale had eight points and one rebound in 15 minutes.
The defensive effort and rebounding increased tremendously in the second half, leading to more scoring opportunities on fast breaks and in transition. The Tide's depth played a big part, as nine players played at least 13 minutes apiece. At crunch time Johnson settled on Norris, Taylor, Collins, Ingram and freshman Braxton Key. Key had a nice debut with six points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes. The Charlotte, N.C. native showed a nice overall game, and played under control. JUCO three-point specialist Ar'Mond Davie hit only 1-7 from long range, getting 15 minutes of time. Sophomore jumping jack Donta Hall grabbed three rebounds with 3 assists and swatted two Coastal shots into the stands. The biggest surprise was Memphis transfer Nick King only logging four minutes of action.
The Tide committed 11 turnovers against 13 assists. That's not a great ratio, but is an improvement over last season. The long, athletic group blocked eight shots and had eight steals. Coastal won the battle of the boards 43-39 and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, a point of contention for Johnson after the game. CC shot only 17-62 for 27% on the game, and committed 13 turnovers against only seven assists.
This group is deep and athletic, with the ability to play different styles. Every night there is the potential for a new hero, unlike the last three seasons when Trevor Releford then Levi Randolph then Retin Obasohan were forced to carry the load almost single handed. Johnson seems to be experimenting with the best combination of players, and probably will be for several games. It is nice to have a full deck to play with for the first time in several years.
Next up is a rare Tuesday afternoon game with the Dayton Flyers. The game will tip off on ESPN2 at 12:05 CT. The Tide owes the Flyers, having lost to them in the last few meetings. After a nice crowd of over 14,000 tonight, it is a shame the game is at noon on a weekday, but such is life when TV schedules rule all.
Roll Tide and Buckle Up