Alabama swaggered in, took Charleston Southern’s lunch money, and then made them pay for insurance afterwards.
The game was a mugging, with Alabama scoring 76 points to CSU’s 46, and the game was just as much of a blowout as the score appears, perhaps even more so.
The first half demonstrated just what we have been wanting to see from an Avery Johnson squad since his hire. The Tide started hot, both offensively and defensively, and that continued on to a tune of 40 points on offense to only giving up 15 to an over matched Charleston Southern team. Braxton Key led the surge with 12 points of his own, hitting shots from beyond the 3-point arc, mid-range, under the basket, and in transition. He also added 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and two blocks. All in the first half.
Avery Johnson Jr. also had a solid half as the first point guard off the bench, and likely had more time at the point than did either Dazon Ingram or Corban Collins. He was up and down the field and played with confidence, even when under the basket.
The biggest thing I saw in the first half was the offense adapting to CSU’s 3-2 zone. When they first started using it, Alabama got caught in the trap of passing the ball around the perimeter until time ran out. Afterwards though, they repeated found a man sitting at the top of the box—between the 3 and the 2 of the zone— who would dish it back to a wing, effectively spinning the perimeter defenders around and allowing the offense that extra moment to make things happen... even if the shots didn’t always go in. That was something we haven’t seen in many years at Alabama, as zone teams often stalled out a stagnant Tide offense.
The entire second half was more of the same, as Avery Johnson mixed and matched the rotations to experiment with different player groupings. Offensively, the Tide held course, but they also gave up a good many more points in the second. The biggest issue was that the players were getting too eager and antsy to block shots, leaving their feet and having CSU players fake the shot and pass or dribble past the leaping Tide man... and the entire team was doing it.
Braxton Key cooled off from his first half, but still led the team with 14 points, while adding 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. I will go ahead and say now that I think Key will become the most critical player on this team sooner rather than later. Armond Davis, despite limited playing time, was second on the team with 10 points. He was 2-3 from 3-point range, with both makes being very impressive shots.
Dazon Ingram had a solid game in his own right, adding 9 points and a team high of 4 assists. Despite being on the team for over a year now, he still looks like a freshman out there. An extremely talented freshman, but one who still isn’t totally comfortable yet. With Jimmie Taylor doing Jimmie Taylor things, Donta Hall gained some valuable minutes early in the game, and responded with a couple of emphatic dunks. He slowly disappeared over the course of the game, but still led the Tide with 7 rebounds.
Shannon Hale led the team too. In turnovers. He had a few nice shots, but was mostly ineffective in every other aspect of the game.
Lawson Schaffer got some playing time at the end of the game, drawing a huge reaction from the crowd. At one point, he managed to steal a ball and save it from going out of bounds with a behind the back pass as he crashed into the chairs, then returned to the court to make a 3-point shot that would have been good in the NBA. Coleman Coliseum almost exploded the crowd was so excited.
It was an easy game for Alabama, and one that we’ll forget about in a few weeks. It didn’t help the RPI or really tell us how our team will truly stack up in SEC competition, but it’s wonderful to see our basketball team blowout someone that they’re supposed to. All too often in the past we’ve seen the Tide hang around with teams like this, just barely squeaking out a win at the end of the game.
But this was utter domination, both offensively and defensively. We got to see an example of the type of offense that Coach Avery Johnson wants, and I like what I saw.