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Bama Basketball Breakdown & Gamethread: Appalachian State

The Crimson Tide look to build on an encouraging home opener

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Virginia Tech vs Alabama Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There were quite a few takeaways from Alabama’s 82-62 opening game win over the Southern Jaguars on Tuesday night, but the major one is this: the Tide aren’t going to completely fade off without Collin Sexton. Sure, it’s only been a game, but there were some really encouraging things that happened the other night. Kira Lewis Jr. looked like a veteran running the offense from the point in his first career game. John Petty and Galin Smith were much more polished than the incredibly raw versions of them we saw a year ago. Donta Hall made some nice moves in the post, and a much fitter Alex Reese was able to make some plays away from the basket. If Avery Johnson can get more offensive production from his post players that don’t involve someone setting them up around the rim, that could be huge. Tevin Mack and Herb Jones could be serious ballers for this team, too.

Again, it was a single game against an over-matched opponent. But Alabama put on an impressive performance in their opener. Hopefully that will continue on into tonight, as the Tide will actually be on tv for their game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers won their opener in blowout fashion, as they defeated Mars Hill 125-62. Needless to say, Alabama will be quite the step-up in competition for them in comparison. Regardless, Jim Fox’s veteran squad should be one of the better teams in the Sun Belt this season, so Alabama shouldn’t take them too lightly.

The Roster

Starting Five

POINT 6’5 Ronshad Shabazz (18.5 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.5 RPG)

GUARD 6’2 Justin Forrest (13.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.0 APG)

WING 6’8 Tyrell Johnson (7.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.7 APG)

POST 6’9 Isaac Johnson (7.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.5 APG)

POST 6’9 Hunter Seacat (2.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG)

The Bench

GUARD 5’11 O’Showen Williams (7.8 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.3 RPG)

GUARD 6’3 Adrian Delph

WING 6’9 Breki Gylfason

POST 6’8 Bennett Holley (1.9 PPG, 1.0 RPG)

POST 7’1 Jake Wilson (1.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG)

*Stats from 2017-18 season

This is a veteran group. Only two freshmen, Delph and Gylfason, logged minutes in the opener, and Delph dropped 16 points. Forrest and Shabazz are what make this team run though. They combined for 35 points and 8 assists the other night for the Mountaineers. They don’t have much in the way of wings, as most of their roster is either skilled guards or lengthy post players.

What to Watch For

  • Injuries. Dazon Ingram missed the opener as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. He should be a game time decision tonight. Daniel Giddens did end up playing the other night (though not for much time since fouling continues to be an issue for him), and the expectation is that he will again tonight. Riley Norris and Javian Fleming-Davis will likely both be out again.
  • Kira Lewis Jr. Again, Lewis really impressed in his collegiate debut. Whether Ingram plays or not, it will be interesting to see how Lewis does against a group of veteran guards.
  • Sustained Improvement. As alluded to earlier in the article, there were a lot of encouraging takeaways from the first game of the season. Hopefully, most of those will continue into the second game of the year as well.

Appalachian State should give Alabama a stiffer test than the one the Crimson Tide faced in the home opener. However, this is a game an NCAA Tournament-level team takes care of relatively easily. With the strong field of the Charleston Classic up next, Avery Johnson’s squad will need to be ready to play at a high level. Hopefully this Mountaineer team provides the perfect tune-up for the Tide.

The game will tip-off at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on the SEC Network.