Bama fell for the second consecutive year to Central Florida, losing 70-64 on the road on Thursday night. The Tide lost despite out rebounding the Knights by a 46-29 margin, including a ridiculous 19 on the offensive boards. The problem was getting the ball to go through the hoop after securing the board. A BIG part of that was the presence of 7’6” Tacko Fall in the middle for UCF. Fall only played 19 minutes due to foul trouble, and was credited with four blocked shots, but the number he altered was immense.
Coach Avery Johnson continued to trot out Herbert Jones, John Petty, Donta Hall, Galin Smith, and Kira Lewis to start the game. A 1-15 start from the field, hopefully, will finally put this starting line up to bed. With 10 minutes left in the half the Tide trailed 18-7 and had only scored one basket that was not a free throw. Alex Reese entered the game and gave an immediate spark, and somehow the Tide was able to cut the lead to 29-25 at the half. Bama ended the half shooting 9-29 (31%), including 1-8 (12%) from the three point line, and 6-10 from the free throw line. The Knights weren't much better, cooling off after their hot start, and finished 8-20 (40%), 2-7 (29%) from three, and 11-15(73%) from the free throw line.
Johnson inserted Reese in the starting lineup for the second half in replace of Smith, and the results were immediately positive. The sophomore scored two hoops in the paint early, then stepped out and nailed a long three pointer to give the Tide their first lead at 36-34. The teams traded baskets before Lewis exploded past his defender for a lay in and a 40-38 Bama lead. From there on the Knights would tie, and pass, the Tide, leading anywhere from 2-7 points from there out. Alabama had many chances to draw closer but missed several wide open looks from behind the arc, and could never get over the hump.
The Tide shot much better in the second frame, 16-37 (43%), 4-16 (25%) from three, and 3-4 from the free throw line. The Knights shot 13-25 (52%), including 3-8 (38%) from deep and 12-21 (57%) from the free throw line. As stated the Crimson Tide won the battle of the boards 46-29, with a 19-4 advantage on the offensive end. Bama dished 14 assists, turned it over 14 times, blocked five shots, and recorded three steals. The Knights had 12 assists, nine turnovers, six blocks, and five steals.
Kira Lewis is playing well beyond his years. The 17 year old, would be senior in high school, has seized control of the team, and has been the most consistent performer all year. The freshman finished with 14 points on 6-11 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, and only two turnovers in 32 minutes.
Donta Hall reasserted himself after disappearing for the last few games. Hall was 5-10 from the field and finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks outshining Fall who finished with 10 points, two rebounds, and four blocks.
Alex Reese showed why he needs to be in the starting lineup, scoring 14 points, (5-14 from the field, 2-7 from deep), and grabbed three rebounds in 28 minutes.
Dazon Ingram was limited to 18 minutes by foul trouble but filled up the stat sheet with five points, six rebounds, a team leading four assists, and more importantly only one turnover.
Road John Petty, shot 2-10, including 1-7 from deep and finished with five points, although he did snare eight rebounds. Herbert Jones continues to struggle with his shot, and finished with seven points and six rebounds. Galin Smith played 10 minutes (about the amount he probably should play) and had one point and one rebound. Tevin Mack was 2-6, missed all four of his his three point attempts and had four points in 14 minutes.
A road loss to a team favored to win their conference isn’t a resume killer, but it sure would have been a positive mark on the ledger. Showing that Las Vegas does know what they are talking about, the Knights were a six point favorite, and the over/under was 134.5...
The Tide takes to the hardwood again on Monday night, at home, when they host Georgia State at 7 p.m. in Coleman. The game will be available on SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN App. GSU is 5-2 on the year and own a 91-67 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.
Buckle Up and Roll Tide
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