Eventually, you’re all going to get tired of me saying that this team is special and a total 180 from the basketball we’ve been watching over the last decade. But today is not that day. Even when the best player on the team is having his worst cold streak of the season thus far and the others are plagued with turnovers, the team still got 77 points-- a score that would have marked an effective offensive outing in the last decade of Bama ball.
Louisiana Tech came into this game undefeated and with a penchant for long-range shooting efficiency, and exited with their first loss of the season while Alabama locked up another quality win.
Alabama led 4-2 in the early minutes of the game, but Tech pulled away a little bit after that, and the game started oscillating in a predictable fashion. The Bulldogs would jump up to close to a 10 point lead while Alabama would hit a dry spell, then a couple of awesome plays would put Bama back into position to tie the game. Rinse, repeat, all the way until 5 minutes left in the game when Alabama finally took a 1 point lead again.
Nearing the end of the first half, it was looking like Alabama might falter and get beat soundly. Collin Sexton had hit somewhere in the range of 2/9 shots, while John Petty and Herb Jones seemed determine to turn the ball over every time they had it. Finally, Dazon Ingram stepped up and scored 7 points over the course of a couple of minutes, and closed the half at 37-38.
Alabama lost that momentum going into the second half though, and didn’t score for the first five minutes while LaTech jumped out to a 48-37 lead. Ingram put the team back on his back and started scoring again while John Petty went to the bench on what might have been injury, or maybe mindset. Don’t know yet.
Sexton finally started to hit his groove and started making some great drives to the basket. Donta Hall really benefited from this, as he added quite a few dunks in a flurry of points that tied things up. The last few minutes of the game consisted mostly of Ingram or Sexton driving into the lane and drawing fouls. Despite the Tide’s lack luster performance on free throws all season and this game, the pair really clamped down on it and made enough of them in crunch time to ice the game away.
Both teams were pretty poor from the 3-point line all night, but Bama abandoned it in favor of the post game against the smaller Tech team, while the Bulldogs doggedly (hah, see what I did there?) kept shooting them, and ended up with 4/23 on the night. Alabama won the rebound battle 43-36, but lost the turnover battle 14-18.
Ingram and Sexton led the team with 22 points each. 13 of Ingram’s came from free throws, while 9 of Sexton’s did. The difference is that Ingram got those points on only 7 shots, while Sexton took 19. Ingram was one rebound away from the double-double, while Sexton had 3 assists and 3 steals.
Donta Hall was the only other player in double digits, scoring 15. He hit 3/3 free throws (100%!) and I think that 4 of his baskets were dunks. He also added 7 rebounds and 4 blocks (5, if you include a dubious goaltending call).
Nobody else really had any stats of note, other than Herb(ert) Jones leading the way with 4 turnovers and fouling out.
Offensively, the Tide was really hot and cold. Sometimes, things just flowed and worked and Sexton/Ingram cut through the defense like scissors sliding through wrapping paper. Other times, even the best ball movement in the world still ended with Daniel Giddens missing an easy lay-up with the basket about a foot from his hands.
On defense, they really struggled early on with getting back after a change of possession, and Tech got quite a few easy baskets that way before Coach Avery Johnson made some changes (read: had some strong words) and got some hustle into the team. After that, the Bulldogs fell into a tendency of, as Wimp Sanderson kept putting it, just “jacking up” bad shots as soon as they got to the Bama side of the court.
That, ultimately, is what did them in as they couldn’t hit enough shots to keep up with Bama’s more consistent scoring approach at the end of the game of driving to the basket over and over to get free throws or free dunks.
It was a good, solid win with enough negatives to give CAJ a lot of coaching points. We’re now 6-1, and looking more and more like a legitimate NCAA contender, especially considering that this record is coming on a fairly decent out of conference schedule.
Sidenote: Since you heathens can’t seem to think about anything other than the quarterbacks on the football team, here’s some food for thought— Riley Norris launched a cross-court inbound pass to a streaking Collin Sexton and dropped it right in his breadbasket. Some of you may be #TeamJalen while others are #TeamTua. For me, I think I’m going with #TeamRiley.