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Tide Impressive in Win Over Red Wolves

The Crimson Tide defeated Arkansas State 67-52 on Wednesday night in Huntsville.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas State at Alabama, in Huntsville
Roll Tide
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide continued their barnstorming home games across the state, meeting Arkansas State in Huntsville on Wednesday night. In likely their most impressive game of the year, ‘Bama took a 67-52 victory, improving the season record to 6-5, while ASU fell to 9-3. The Red Wolves are a formidable opponent, owning a road win against Georgetown. The game was held in a hockey arena used by UA-Huntsville. The Von Braun Center, and the basketball court had to be trucked in from Birmingham for the game. A sell-out crowd of around eight thousand was announced for the game.

The Tide started off slowly, but hit their stride about half-way through the first stanza and held a 31-26 half-time lead. A flagrant foul call on a Dazon Ingram layup attempt ignited the Tide after trailing for several minutes. ‘Bama still shot poorly, 10-27 in the first half, but grabbed 20 rebounds and made 9-11 free throws. Shannon Hale and Ingram led the way with seven points each. With Corban Collins out with a groin injury, Avery Johnson, Jr. drew the first start of his career, joined by Ingram, Donta Hall, Braxton Key and Riley Norris.

In the second half, with Hall in foul trouble, Jimmie Taylor played, by far, his best game of the year. Taylor led the team in scoring with 12 points and grabbed four rebounds. Key had a fine all around game, scoring 11 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and throwing in two assists, two blocks and a steal. Ingram finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Hale had his best game in a month and scored nine points.

Overall the Tide shot 25-57 for 44% , including 4-13 from three point range for 31%. Free throw shooting continues to be a problem, hitting 13-22 for 59%. ‘Bama won the battle of the boards, 43-40 with Norris scrapping his way to nine big rebounds. The team, once again, had more turnovers than assists, 14-13, but did block nine shots and grab six steals. After a couple of big scoring games in his first two starts, Hall had fallen off some, and scored five points with four rebounds, but had four blocked shots, while battling foul trouble. It was nice to see Taylor come in an pick up some slack, although he still needs to rebound better. Johnson, Jr. was the lone bright spot in the Sunday loss to Clemson, but struggled with his shot in this game, going 3-12 and 0-3 from long range. AJJ did contribute four assists, four rebounds and two steals along with his six points.

Even in the second year of coach Avery Johnson, this ‘Bama team and last year’s as well, are really Anthony Grant 2.0. They most likely win when they hold a team under 60 points. Over 60 allowed, they most likely lose. The Tide are very challenged on offense, and struggle to consistently hit shots. With no Retin Obasohan, Levi Randolph or Trevor Releford to bail them out at the end of the shot clock, there are foo too many late clock, bad shots being launched. On the rare occasion that the team knocks down shots, and can play fast, they are dangerous. Unfortunately those times are few and far between at this point.

With the 2017-18 class coming in, look for the style, and results, to change. With Key, Ingram, Johnson and Hall as a veteran nucleus and Colin Sexton, John Petty, Alex Reece, Herb Jones and Daniel Giddens joining them, the offensive numbers should improve dramatically. Coach Johnson should have the athletes to play the up tempo game that he favors. In the mean time this years team will have to grit and gut out games and try to win at the end. There is ability there, and hopefully the team will jell as the SEC season starts in about two weeks.

The next game is actually a home game, (in Tuscaloosa-yea!) on Thursday the 29th against Stetson. The tip is set for 7:00 p.m. CT. The SEC season will start on January 3rd with a road trip to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Roll Tide and Buckle Up