The game started slow, with both teams struggling to score for much of the first part of the first half. Between the ugly shots and turnovers, it all just seemed very discombobulated. Stetson hit a 3-pointer to bring the Tide lead down to one point, 14-13, and then Alabama remembered how to offense for a while. Over the next 8 minutes, Alabama outscored their opponent by a margin of 15 to 2, jumping out to a 14 point lead.
They put the car into coast after that, though, and allowed Stetson to climb back to only a 7-point hole by halftime— thanks in part to what seemed like an endless supply of miracle shots and the luck of the devil on shots that hit every single square inch of the rim before falling through the basket.
If the first half showed some glimpses of the talent difference between the two teams, the second half was a 20-minute display for all to see. Alabama scored 11 unanswered points right off the bat, spearheaded by a flurry of dunks from Donta Hall, Dazon Ingram, and Braxton Key. At about the same time Riley Norris got hot, draining 3-pointers from wherever he felt like it to the tune of his best game of the season.
Alabama kept the game at about a 20 point differential the rest of the way through, letting Brandon Austin and Lawson Schaffer get some playing time near the end. Final score: 83-60.
Stetson was just outsized in this one. Alabama won the rebound battle 53-27, with a phenomenal 21 offensive rebounds. Add in seven blocked shots, and those numbers still don’t even accurately represent just how much more length the Tide had.
Dazon Ingram got the first double-double for the team this season, scoring 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 4 assists and a steal. Though not a true point guard, Ingram has thrown some of the most impressive passes you’ll see so far this season, with a no-look-from-behind-the-back toss getting another assist under the basket.
Braxton Key nearly got a double-double too, with 10 points and 9 rebounds with 4 assists of his own. He and Ingram are spearheading an effort to pass the ball inside the paint in a more NBA-style of offense than the Alabama team that has so relied on outside shooting in the past.
Riley Norris led the team with 18 points, half of those coming from 3-point shots. Avery Johnson Jr. added 10 points of his own, and led the team with 6 assists. With Corban Collins out with injury, Jr. has received a lion’s share of the time at point guard, and he has responded well. Donta Hall rounded out the starters with 8 points and a couple of blocked shots of his own. (plus he gets bonus points for intimidating dunks).
All in all, it was a good win against an undersized squad. It won’t mean much in the long run, but losing would have really hurt the Tide, so that makes it a big win in its own right. Dazon Ingram, Braxton Key, and Donta Hall all continue to show improving chemistry with each other, and Riley Norris and AJ Jr. really stepped up this week for the other two spots.
Conference play is coming next, and it will be much more difficult. But this team in trending upwards. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about next season when Key and Ingram have more experience and the next recruiting class comes in.... but don’t write off this Alabama squad just yet.