After possibly the worst loss of the Avery Johnson era on Tuesday, blowing a 22 point lead in the last 14 minutes to Georgia State, the Crimson Tide basketball team needed a bounce back win. They got it today, defeating Arizona by a score of 76-73. Once again the Tide raced out to a big lead, lost it, but this time were able to regroup and take the victory. Alabama improved to 6-3 on the season while Arizona fell to 7-3. The Wildcats are a “little down” this year, but still should be a midrange seed in the NCAA Tournament in March. The win was a much needed salve to the wounded Crimson Tide.
Coach Avery Johnson tweaked his starting lineup, going with Dazon Ingram over John Petty to go along with Herbert Jones, Kira Lewis, Donta Hall, and Tevin Mack. Petty has been struggling with his shot, as has Jones.
Arizona jumped out to an early lead, but Alex Reese, Avery Johnson, Jr., and Galin Smith came off the bench to give the Tide a boost, and helped build a 30-14 lead. The Wildcats slowly whittled away at the lead, and had cut it to 39-30 by halftime. The Tide was 15-32 (47%) from the field, 4-9 (44%) from deep and 5-6 from the line in the first stanza. The Bama defense held Arizona to 12-38 (31%) including 4-14 (28%) from deep and 2-4 from the free throw line. Reese and Smith had eight points each to lead the team into the locker room.
At the half the best athlete in the building, The Red Panda, preformed. If you haven't ever seen her act, it is amazing. Riding a 20 something foot high unicycle, she balances bowls and plates on one foot and kicks them on to the top of her head, where she catches them. She starts with two and works her way up to five at a time, and I have yet to see her miss in her many trips to Tuscaloosa.
In the second half Dazon Ingram never came out of the locker room after injuring his back late in the first half. Petty returned to the starting second half lineup. In the first minute and a half of the frame the Wildcats had cut the lead to 39-36, and the Tide was reeling. Arizona took the lead at 53-52 as Bama began turning the ball over, and missing free throws at an alarming high rate. Down the stretch the Tide alternated from a two to four point lead when Lewis stepped up an calmly drained a three pointer for a 73-68 lead with 12 seconds left. The Wildcats quickly hit a three of their own for a two point game with seven seconds left. Petty was fouled and made 1 of 2 for a three point lead. Coach Johnson choose to foul and Justin Coleman hit both to make the lead only one with five seconds left. Coleman was making a return where his career began, as the Birmingham native spent two seasons with the Tide.
On a near breakaway, Lewis was fouled and cooly drained both for the 76-73 lead. A long heave by Arizona came up short at the buzzer, and the Tide held on for a hard fought victory.
The Tide shot well in the second half from the field, but almost gave another game away at the free throw line. In the second half the team shot only 50% from the line, 11-22, and 16-28 for 57% for the game. Bama finished 26-56 for 46% from the field, including 8-19 for 42% from deep. Those are numbers you can win with, but not with 57% free throw shooting. The Wildcats shot 29-70 (41%) from the field, including 9-25 for 38% from deep. The Cats made 6-9 free throws.
As they have in every game, the Tide won the battle of the boards, albeit closer than normal at 40-38. Bama had 11 assists, committed 15 turnover, had four blocks and five steals. Arizona had 10 assists and 11 turnovers with four blocks and six steals.
Individually, as has become the norm, Lewis led the way, scoring 20 points on 7-13 shooting and 4-5 from three point range, all in 30 minutes of play. Reese was all over the place, and added 15 points with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He continues to show that he needs to play major minutes for the Tide, and logged 27 minutes today. Hall was the leading rebounder with nine, and added 13 points in 25 minutes of action. Mack continues to add a spark to the starting quintet with 12 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes. Smith didn't score in the second half, finishing with eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes. Jones and Petty continue to be head scratchers offensively, combining for four points, all by Petty, in a combined 53 minutes. For Bama to win a game with that little production from two very key players is a miracle within itself. Petty did grab six rebounds, and has done a good job this season on the boards.
Petty needs to find his shooting stroke from deep to supplement Lewis and Reese. Jones has not been able to see anything go through the hoop for several games now. Jones leads the team in free throw attempts, with 42, but has only made 18 of them for a putrid 42% success rate. Lewis is the leading scorer at 15.4 points per game, followed by Petty with 10.9 per contest. Hall averages 9.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per, in 23 minutes of play each game. Mack tossed in 8.8 points per game with only 18 minutes of action, and Reese is also averaging 8.8 points with only 17 minutes per game. For the Tide to the long scoring droughts that continually plague the team, Lewis, Reese, and Mack need as many minutes on the court as possible.
The Tide will be off this week for finals before playing a good Liberty team in Huntsville on December 18th. The game will be at 7 p.m CT with no listed TV availability at this time.
Roll Tide Roll
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