The Alabama Crimson Tide had a wakeup call after sleepwalking through a Thursday’s loss to Northeastern. On Thursday, the Tide played with little to no energy and sleepwalked in the loss. On Friday, the team bounced back with renewed focus and a shortened rotation to defeat Ball State by a score of 79-61. Bama inmproved to 3-1 while Ball State fell to 1-3 on the season.
Tevin Mack made the most of his opportunity on Friday, playing 23 minutes and scoring 20 points on 7-14 shooting, including 5-9 from three point range. After a zero point, one rebound game on Thursday, Donta Hall came to play and notched a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and blocked three shots to boot. Herbert Jones found his shooting touch and was next in scoring with 13 points, including his first made three point basket of the season. Jones also grabbed three rebounds and drew three charges in the game before fouling out. John Petty only scored seven points, but had three rebounds and seven assists. Dazon Ingram had eight points and five rebounds, while Kira Lewis had eight points, three assists, and three steals. Galin Smith added eight points and five rebounds.
The Tide started off fast and jumped to an early comfortable lead, and never let the Cardinals in the game. Bama scored on 22 points in the first half on Thursday, but scored 34 in the first frame in today’s game, taking a 34-21 lead into the break. The Tide shot 15-32 (47%) from the field, including 3-10 from three and was 1-2 from the free throw line. Defensively the Tide held Ball State to 7-25 shooting (28%) and 0-7 from deep. The Cardinals did make 7-9 free throws before half.
Led by Mack, the Tide blistered the nets in the second half, 18-33 for 55%, with 4-9 (44%) from the three point line and 5-7 free throws. For the game, Bama was 33-65 for just over 50% and 7-19 (37%) from deep and 6-9 (67%) from the free throw line. Ball State shot 62% in the second half and finished 22-49 (45%), 3-12 (25%) from deep and 14-22 (64%) from the free throw line. Bama led the rebounding by a 35-31 margin. More importantly the Tide had 22 assists on 33 made baskets, against 14 turnovers. The team added five blocked shots and had four steals.
After seemingly trying to fit a square peg in a round hole previously, coach Avery Johnson shortened the rotation to the benefit of the team. Seven players played 183 of the 200 minutes available. Daniel Giddens never left the bench and Avery Johnson, Jr. was limited to 11 minutes. Alex Reese only recorded three minutes in the game. Petty, Lewis, Hall, Ingram, Mack, Smith, and Jones all played anywhere from 22 minutes (Jones, because of foul trouble), to 32 minutes for Petty. Petty continues to log the most playing time of all the players. The caucasian invasion (Lawson Schaffer, Tyler Barnes, and Britton Johnson) came in for the last minute of play. Playing less players more minutes allows them to get in a rhythm on the floor, and looks to be the best course of action for this team going forward. The “Return Of The Mack” was the theme of this game, and this is the Mack that led Texas in scoring his first two years of college play.
If Mack and Petty can consistently hit from outside, the middle will open up for slashers like Jones, Lewis, and Ingram, as well as opening up the middle for Hall and Smith. Just when you think your are out, this team pulls you back in. As bad as yesterday was, today was equally as good. The Tide will take to the hardcourt again on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. against Wichita State (1-2) who slipped by Appalachian State 82-76. The game will be available on ESPNU. This is the sixth time in nine years these two teams have squared off.
Roll Tide, Re-Buckle Up