The Crimson Tide started off slowly on Friday night in their contest with giant slayer Stephen F Austin, but stormed back with a strong second half, and took a 78-68 victory in Coleman Coliseum. Bama improved to 4-4 on the season, while the Lumberjacks fell to 7-2. Just 10 days ago SFA went to Durham and beat Duke at home, breaking the Blue Devils 150 game home non conference game winning streak. Austin had an RPI of 21 entering the game, so this was truly a quality win.
The shorthanded Tide did not have the services of grad transfer James “Beetle” Bolden, as he is still suffering from two different wrist injuries. Bolden led to the team to a victory over Southern Miss in the seventh place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis last Friday. Coach Nate Oats said the beating of playing three games in three days took its toll, and doctors decided to hold Bolden out tonight. Alex Reese has battled a hip injury all season, and also aggravated his foot in the Bahamas, forcing him to not practice at all this week. Reese gutted it out and started the game, playing 29 minutes while finding his three-point stroke in the meantime.
Bama started very slowly, and only had one field goal and five points after seven minutes of play, trailing 11-5. Things started to heat up when Kira Lewis hit a three point basket, and the teams remained close the rest of the half. At the break the Tide led by a score of 32-31. Bama was 9-23 for 39 %, including 5-15 (33%) from the three point range, and 9-13 (60%) from the free throw line. The Lumberjacks shot 10-30 for 33%, 2-6 from deep (also 33%), and 9-10 from the free throw line. The larger visitors held a substantial lead on the boards in the first half.
The Tide started out the second half with John Petty hitting back to back three point shots to build a five point lead. Reese got hot and hit a couple from long range of his own, and the Tide built 10 point advantage that they held for most of the rest of the game. The very physical Lumberjacks kept the pressure on the Tide, and started forcing some turnover late that allowed them to cut the lead to 74-68 with 23 seconds left. Bama made enough free throws in the last few seconds to finish with the 10 point victory. Earlier today when we saw the Vegas line had Bama favored by 10 points, the RBR boys all seemed to think that was a mistake. There is a reason they build all those swanky buildings out in the desert.
Bama hit 50% of its shots in the second half, 12-24, including 6-17 (35%) from deep and added 16-22 from the charity stripe. SFA was 14-31 (45%) and 2-7 from behind the arc, and 7-11 from the free throw line in the second stanza. Overall the Tide was 21-47 (45%) from the field, 11-32 (34%) from deep, and 25-35 (71%) from the line. The ‘Jacks finished 24-61 (39%), 4-13 (30%) from the three point line, and 16-21 (76%) from the free throw line. SFA won the battle of the boards 38-33. Bama had 13 assists, 20 turnovers, eight big blocks, and 11 steals. The Lumberjacks finished with just six assists, had 19 turnovers, no blocks, and 12 steals. These two team were among the NCAA leaders in turnovers coming into the game, and lived up to that billings.
The Tide had five players in double figures, led by freshman Jaden Shackelford with 17. Shack hit 10-11 from the free throw line. Lewis had 15 points, six rebounds. three assists, four steals, and five turnovers. Reese had his best game of the year, hitting 4-8 three pointers, scoring 15 points with four rebounds, and two assists. Petty tossed in 14 on 4-10 from the three point line, had four rebounds, two assists, and two or three highlight behind the back passes. Big Javian Davis continued his strong inside presence with 11 points, but only two rebounds. Herbert Jones fouled out with two points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and five turnovers in 16 minutes of action.
Petty, Davis, and Shackelford were all extra active, filling lanes, diving for balls, keeping rebounds alive, and playing tough defense. This game really was a fun one to watch, and gives the fans a snap shot of what an Oats team is suppose to play like. When the number of available players, and the talent level of some, increases, Oats Tide teams will be must see hoops.
The Tide is off a few days for finals, and will take the court again on Saturday, December 14th, in Happy Valley, as the take on Penn State at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big 10 Network ( if anyone out there gets that!).
Roll Tide #BallAndOats
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