The No. 11 Crimson Tide broke out of their offensive slump in a big way on Saturday, beating Georgia 115-82. The point total was the second-most total points in school history and the most scored in an SEC contest in program history.
Fans and the general public were pushing for Coach Nate Oats to rest Herbert Jones in this game, but the second-year Tide leader apparently knows more than Twitter coaches. Withholding Jones from full practice, but letting him get full speed reps safely, the senior has been able to stay in game shape and came up huge today. Jones scored 21 points this afternoon — 19 in the first half —had five rebounds, four assists, three blocks, took a couple of charges, and was all over the court, looking better than he has since his big fall a few games ago.
Oats said that “sitting him doesn't get him better, playing does. If you sit him he gets rusty and when he is full speed he will take a couple of games to get back in game shape. We are being very careful with him and feel this is the best way to handle it.”
Jones was joined in the starting lineup by Jaden Shackelford, John Petty, Josh Primo, and Alex Reese. Reese and Jones hit three-point shots right off the bat, and the Tide was rolling.
At the first media timeout the game was tied at 10-10, but Bama won all of the other nine & four minute increments. The Tide stayed hot and took a 51-38 lead into the locker room at halftime. UGA stayed remotely in the game by making 13-13 free throws. Bama shot 18-30 overall for a cool 60%, 11-17 from three for 64%, and 4-5 for 80% from the free throw line. Georgia was 12-29 for 41%, only 1-10 from deep, and the aforementioned 13-13 from the stripe. The Bulldogs are not a very good team, but rebound well and are very “handsy” on defense, leading to several Alabama turnovers on steals.
The second half was more of the same once the Tide got rolling, not allowing the Dogs to get closer than 15 points for most of the period. After being held scoreless in the first half Joshua Primo heated up, scoring all 19 of his points in the second. Oats said that “we have worked with Primo on making plays off the dribble when they get up on him. He is a great shooter, and he is getting better at recognizing when to shoot and when to drive.” Reese and James Rojas played well, combining for 35 minutes with 12 points and six rebounds between them, much needed with Jordan Bruner still out. Jahvon Quinerly (16 points) joined the party and started knocking down three pointers, when he wasn’t being pulled out of the game for his defensive deficiencies.
With 4:37 left the score was 95-72 and it was clear the Tide was going to reach the magic 100 mark. Quinerly hit a three to make the score 102-76, followed by one from Primo and another from Darius Miles as Bama poured it on. Miles posterized a Bulldog with a monster-top 10 worthy dunk with around a minute left. The players on the bench went absolutely crazy after the play. Miles had another opportunity very soon after, but got fouled and made the free throws. After that play, Oats went to UGA coach Tom Crean and told him that the team wasn't try to run the score up, that he had told them “hold back unless they get up on you, then go by them and make a play, otherwise just run the clock out.” Fifth year walk-on Tyler Barnes got in the scoring column with a free throw and the Tide won big, 115-82.
Alabama was even hotter in the second half with 18-26 for 69%, including 7-13 from deep and 21-25 from the free throw line. For the game the Tide scorched the nets to the tune of 36-56 for 64%, 18-30 from three for 60% and 25-30 for 83% from the free throw line. Bama had 36 rebounds, 19 assists, five steals, and five blocks. The one red mark was 18 turnovers.
Jones was the leading scorer with his 21, followed by Primo with 19, Shackelford with 18, Quinerly with 16, and Petty with 13. Jones and Reese led with five rebounds each and Jones, Shackelford, and Petty all had four assists. Miles had seven points and four rebounds in just four minutes of play. Jones got the hard hat award, again. They need to just name it after him and let someone else have a chance. Jones made a big statement toward being named the SEC Player of the year.
This is the best the team has played since the dismantling of LSU on January 19th by a score of 105-75. It is incredible what this group can do when healthy and making shots. Not many games will be lost shooting 60% from deep and 64% from the field. This Tide team is so fun, and it is a shame that due to Covid restrictions so few people can see them in person, I am blessed that I am able too do so.
‘Bama travels to College Station (maybe) to play Texas A&M on Wednesday at 8 p.m. — if so, the game is is slated for the SEC Network. There are some COVID issues with the Aggies, and at this point the game is up in the air.
The win leaves just five games remaining in the regular season, with the Tide up -3.5 games on everyone in the SEC. To clinch at least a share of its first regular season SEC title in almost 20 years, Alabama’s Magic Number now sits at one.