A very good, experienced, Northeastern basketball team took Bama behind the woodshed on Thursday, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and never trailing in a methodical 68-52 win for the Huskies. Northeastern is expected to be a NCAA Tournament team, and they played like it.
The Tide came out lethargic and sloppy, couldn't shoot, or defend the pick and roll. NE lead 33-22 at the half, and it probably shouldn't have been that close. In the first stanza Bama shot 8-27 (29%), including 0-9 from three point range and 6-10 from the free throw line. The Huskies shot 10-18 (56%) including 3-7 (43%) from deep and 10-11 from the charity stripe.
Alabama had several open looks in the first period, but couldn't get the ball to fall, while meanwhile Northeastern was draining the shot clock to the last seconds, and coming out with quality shots, which they drained. The Tide never figured out the pick and dive, which the Huskies used to perfection. John Petty tallied seven points in the first and was backed up by Kira Lewis with four.
When the second half started the Tide seemed to have a small spark, and were able to cut the lead to seven points at one juncture. However, Northeastern stuck to their game plan and their experience paid off. Fifth year senior point guard, Vas Pusica controlled the game as a good veteran should. The 23 year old Pusica had a clear physical maturity advantage over the 17 year old Lewis (who should be a senior in high school.) Six years of experience and weight and nutrition training are invaluable. The Huskies play eight upperclassmen and have five international players on their roster.
The Tide did shoot a little “better” in the second half, 11-24 (38%), and 3-10 from the three point line. Bama was a perfect 5-5 from the line after the break. NE shot 12-24 from the field, 6-10 from deep and 5-6 from the line in the second. The Tide was 19-51 for the game, 3-19 from deep, and 11-15 from the line. Northeastern was 22-42 (52%), and 9-17 from three (also 52%) and 15-17 (88%) from the line. The Tide won the battle of the boards 27-25.
The lone bright spot was that John Petty didn't disappear on the road, scoring 17 points on 6-12 shooting and trying for the team lead with five rebounds. Dazon Ingram added nine points and five rebounds, Herbert Jones chipped in eight points and three rebounds, while Tevin Mack scored seven points in only 15 minutes. The distribution of minutes was a head scratcher. Donta Hall was leading the team in scoring, started the game, but only logged 19 minutes, while failing to score (only one field goal attempt) and three rebounds. Jones played only 23 minutes while Avery Johnson, Jr had 21 minutes of action. Alex Reese clocked nine minutes, Ingram 26, and Galin Smith 17. Petty lead the team with 32 minutes and Lewis was on the court for 31 minutes.
For whatever reason Hall seemed to be in the dog house with coach Avery Johnson, and his minutes reflected that. Mack can be an explosive player, and Reese is a legitimate threat from behind the arc, and those two need time on the floor.
The Tide never seemed to have any sense of urgency, even when trying to cut into the margin late in the game. Hopefully with a 12:30 p.m. tip on Friday vs Ball State the team will wake up and play up to their potential. The game will be televised on ESPNU again.
Roll Tide, Buckle Up
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