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Alabama Basketball shows out in Canada

The Tide defeats McGill 96-57 in the freshmens’ debut

NCAA Basketball: Winthrop at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

In the first game of the offseason scrimmage tournament in Canada, Alabama’s men’s basketball team soundly defeated McGill by a final score of 96-57.

McGill actually jumped out to an early lead, but a 16-0 run, fueled by 8 points from freshman Collin Sexton, put the Tide back ahead, and they never looked back, steadily extending the lead throughout the rest of the game to the final margin of 39 points.

Dazon Ingram was out with a foot injury, but the rest of the team was ready to go. Sexton got the start at point guard, and was surrounded by Riley Norris and fellow freshman John Petty as the wings. Braxton Key started as a hybrid forward/guard, and Donta Hall resumed his role as center.

We know about Avery Johnson, Jr., Braxton Key, Donta Hall, Armond Davis, and Riley Norris already, so I am going to focus on all the new additions to the team.

Petty was the highlight of the night. In his 16 minutes of playing time, he hit 6-8 three point shots and ended up leading the Alabama squad with 22 points. Alabama has lacked a consistently dangerous outside shooter over the last few years, and it looks like Petty might finally be the answer to that. Not only did he launch shots from well beyond the line with precision, he also displayed a lightning-fast shot release that will be difficult for opposing defenses to disrupt.

Sexton was hot early on, but struggled with shot accuracy later in the game. That said, he rifled some very impressive passes into the lane to get the big men involved in the offense. His quickness is evident, and Sexton seems to operate at a different speed than everyone else on the court. He’ll need to work on not trying to force bad shots, but he’s a talent unlike any we’ve seen at Alabama in a long while.

Daniel Giddens, the Ohio State transfer, also made a mark at center. While a little off-balance and foul-happy on defense, he was a force on offense, being the recipient of many of Petty and Sexton’s in-lane passes and got quite a few follow-up slams. He ended up with 13 points.

Alex Reese is a big man. At 6’9” 250 with long arms, he’s not just tall and rangy, but extremely solid as well. Plus he can move. He seemed a bit hesitant and didn’t do a whole lot outside of fight for rebounds and catch and pass the ball, but his size is definitely eye-catching.

Herb Jones followed in behind Braxton Key as a hybrid Forward/wing player. The lefty has got tremendous energy and length, especially on defense. He had a few problems with controlling the ball while in his hands and never really had the chance to take many offensive opportunities, but definitely has the talent and energy to be a force once he gets his feet underneath him.

Galin Smith looks to be the 4th big man in rotation behind Hall, Giddens, and Reese. He’s the tallest of the crew and nearly as heavy as Reese. He had one monster slam, but also mishandled a few passes.

With Collin Sexton and Avery Johnson, Jr. splitting time at point guard, the team will be run by two high-speed players who love to drive to the basket from the outside. Hopefully this will allow Dazon Ingram to move away from point guard to the wing, where he should be a more natural player.

John Petty and Riley Norris will be the two main three-point shooters, with Armond Davis being the relief there.

Braxton Key and Herb Jones have the flexibility to play wing or forward, depending on if Coach Avery Johnson wants to play a big or small lineup.

And for the first time in what feels like ages (if not longer), the Tide might actually have a threat to score from the big men in the paint. Donta Hall is another year older, and the trio of newcomers in Giddens, Reese, and Smith all look to be promising offensive players, not just rebound machines.

As a team, the Tide seemed to struggle with losing on defense and getting turned around when the other team passed the ball more than a couple of times in rapid succession. But for a first game together as a team nearly a half of a year before the season starts, that is expected. Their energy was good, and the offense was bordering on electric. This team just might be special.

Buckle up and Roll Tide.