The Alabama Crimson Tide received good news on Friday when it was determined that Herbert Jones and Jahvon Quinerly would both be available for Saturday’s game with Arkansas. Jones was feared to have a fractured finger, but when the swelling went down a break wasn't found. Quinerly was coming back from missing three games with a “medical issue.” Jones started and Quinerly played 21 minutes off the bench. The news on Jordan Bruner wasn’t as good, and he will miss several weeks after having knee surgery on Wednesday. Alabama did fine without him, winning in blowout fashion by a score of 90-59. The 30 point win was the biggest in conference play for Bama since a 2005 beat down of Mississippi State. The Tide has now won seven in a row and improved to a SEC leading 6-0 and 11-3 overall.
Coach Nate Oats went with Jones, John Petty, Jaden Shackelford, Joshua Primo, and Alex Reese as his starters. The Tide came out smoking and built a 22-5 lead in the early minutes, and took a 42-19 lead into the locker room, basically putting the game away in the first 20 minutes.
In the first half the Tide shot 15-34 for 44% including 7-21 from three point range and hit 5-6 free throws. Their defense was strong as well, very active in the lane with numerous strips and eight steals along the way. The Hogs shot a putrid 6-26 for 23% and only 1-7 from deep in the half, but did hit 6-7 free throws.
Arkansas came out with a little spark in the second half, and when they scored the first five points after intermission Oats called a time out. Whatever the coach said during the stoppage worked as the Tide stretched things back out on an old fashioned three point play from Keon Ellis and a Shackelford make from long distance. Juwan Gary got only seven minutes of action in the game, but he made the most of them as he was seemingly everywhere, scoring inside and outside, blocking shots, and grabbing rebounds. With about 14 minutes left in the game Petty hit a three pointer giving him the school record for most made (264) in school history, overtaking Brian Williams.
Oats started distributing minutes to bench players, and little used guys like Keon Ambrose-Hylton and Darius Miles showed what they were capable of. Reese and James Rojas played only 14 and nine minutes respectively, when they were expected to have to play extended minutes in Bruner’s stead. With both nursing nagging injuries of their own it was good to be able to limit their time.
In the second half Alabama shot 16-30 from the field including 8-15 from deep and 8-11 from the line. In total the Tide finished 31-64 for 48%, 15-36 from deep, and 13-17 from the line. The team finished with 43 rebounds, 18 assists, 14 turnovers, four blocks and 12 steals. The Hogs improved to 15-37 for 40% in the half with 3-10 from three and 7-11 from the line. For the game the swarming Alabama defense held them to 21-63 from the field,4-17 from three point range, and 13-18 from the charity stripe. The Razorbacks had 36 rebounds, eight assists, 18 turnovers, five blocks, and nine steals.
Individually Petty led the way with 17 points on 5-9 shooting from three and 6-10 overall. The senior added four rebounds and a steal. Shackelford shot 6-11, 4-7 from deep, and had 16 points and three assists. Jones gutted out 13 points and four rebounds with two steals, two assists, and a block, and also hit 7-8 free throws. Gary scored nine points. had three rebounds, and three blocks in only seven minutes on the floor. Gary brings toughness and boundless energy every time he plays. Miles made the most of his 13 minutes, the most he has played in a game, by scoring eight points with 2-3 from three point range and a rim rattling dunk. Quinerly contributed seven points and four assists as he works his way back into playing shape. Primo struggled shooting the ball, scoring only three points, but had five rebounds and three assists, and won the prestigious hard hat award for the game. Ambrose-Hylton played 10 minutes of action and had the most exciting play of the night with a huge dunk over 7’3” center Connor Vanover. Oats said that “we need to get that one to SportsCenter because it deserves to be a Top 10 play.” Arkansas was a one man band as super freshman Moses Moody tallied 28 points and had nine rebounds in 35 minutes of play.
Oats was asked if their strategy was to let Moody “get his” and limit everyone else. He answered that “we knew he was good, but we never want anyone to put up 28 on us, and that next time we may go more with Jones and Petty covering him.” When asked about the excitement and atmosphere around Tuscaloosa this week with the football teams National Championship and his teams great start the coach said “it is a great time to be an Alabama fan. Roll Tide.”
ATTENTION, TIDE FANS:
Folks don't look now, but this team is really good. Deep, well coached, relentless, unselfish, and just fun. Much like their schoolmates in the Mal Moore building, these guys are all about team. They genuinely like and care about each other and it shows on the court.
Next up is a road trip to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Jan 19 to take on LSU. The Tigers are 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. The game will be at 8 p.m. CT and will air on ESPN2.