The Crimson Tide had their shortest road trip of the year, traveling to Birmingham to take on the Samford Bulldogs at Legacy Arena. Alabama won the game by a scored of 105-87, improving their record to 5-5 on the season. Samford fell to to 6-7 with the loss.
Bama came out on fire, with John Petty hitting six straight early three point attempts. The Tide ran out to a 22-2 early lead before the Bulldogs could get their footing. Alex Reese joined Petty in hitting from long range, and the Tide took a 57-37 lead into the locker room. Petty had 23 points at the break, and Reese had tossed in 14 of his own.
The Tide hit a blistering 61% (19-31) of their first half shots, including 11-19 (58%) from three point range, and 8-12 for 67% from the free throw line. Bama’s defense held Samford to 13-29 (45%) in the first half, including only 25% (3-12 ) from deep. The Bulldogs did hit 8-8 from the charity stripe in the first stanza.
Petty came out firing in the second half, and the Tide built a 25 point lead before Samford woke up, heated up, and made a game of it. The Bulldogs went on 24-7 run highlighted by hitting virtually every shot they threw up over a six to seven minute period. The made shots allowed SU to get in their press, and the Tide did not handle it well. Turnover after turnover led to easy baskets and suddenly only a six point Tide lead.
The Tide was reeling with a combination of foul trouble, nagging injuries, and sloppy play. However, the frantic play eventually lead to the Bulldogs tiring, and the shots quit falling. Bama was able to keep a 10 point margin most of the rest of the way, mainly by hitting free throws(!!). Petty had to come out of the game a couple of times to be tended to by the training staff. Reese continued to be hampered by his hip and ankle. Herbert Jones was moving with a noticeable limp. Beetle Bolden took a hard fall on a layup attempt and had to leave the game, allowing Samford coach Scott Padgett picking Jones to shoot Bolden’s free throws. Herbert made them regret it by knocking down both freebies.
Bama cooled to 42% (14-33) in the second half, with 6-15 (40%) from deep, and an amazing 14-14 from the free throw line. Samford heated up to 20-39 (51%) in the period, with 6-26 (38%) from three, and 4-6 (67%) from the free throw line. The Tide finished 33-64 for the game (52%), 17-34 from three point range, and 22-26 for 85% from the line. Samford finished 33-68 (49%), 9-28 from deep (32%), and 12-14 from the free throw line. The Tide had 37 rebounds, 20 assists, four blocks, 10 steals, and 16 turnovers. Samford finished with 33 rebounds, 19 assists, three blocks. six steals, and 19 turnovers.
Petty finished with a career high 39 points, on 12-18 from the field and 10-13 from the three point line. The 10 made threes tied his own school record set during his freshman year in 2017. Petty added 10 rebounds, two steals, and two assists. Reese finished with 16 points, mostly on the back of 4-8 from deep. The Birmingham junior added two rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal. Freshman Jaden Shackelford had 13 points, and made all eight of his free throw attempts. Kira Lewis added 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals, and committed five turnovers. Jones had nine points and seven rebounds, with only one turnover, in one of his better games of the year. Bolden added nine points, and Javian Davis fought foul trouble to add six points and five rebounds. Former Bama player Brandon Austin was the leading scored for Samford with 21 points.
The first half of the game showed what Oates ball is suppose to look like. Playing fast, driving the paint and dishing to the three point line, and then making the open jumper. Too often this year the shots haven't fallen, and the ball handling has been less than satisfactory. Other than the six minute or so stretch when Samford pressed the Tide to death, the team took better care of the basketball. However, that six minute stretch was troublesome to say the least. IF they can hit 50% from three point range going forward, the Tide can be a dangerous team. If not, we will likely see a lot of live by the three, die by the three.
This was an exciting game, played non stop, and it sure is fun when shots are falling, Oates ball played at its best. The Tide plays a neutral sight game in Huntsville on Saturday against a very good Belmont team. The game is set for 2:30 p.m. and will be shown on the SEC Network.
Follow @rogerpatmyers for live updates