In front of a students-only crowd, the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team won an exhibition game over Southern Illinois by a score of 73-64 on Saturday afternoon. The game was played in Foster Auditorium, the Tide’s home court until the opening of the then named Memorial Coliseum in 1968. Foster was also the site of the infamous stand in the school house door by former Governor George C Wallace. The old arena has a capacity of 2600. The game was a charity event with proceeds going to the Community Service Programs of West Alabama and the Alberta Head Start Program.
Bama was short handed in the contest with Jahvon Quinerly, Charles Bediako, and Darius Miles all on the shelf and Nimari Burnett being limited in his minutes. Coach Nate Oats sent out a starting five of Mark Sears, Noah Gurley, Dom Welch, Noah Clowney, and superstar in the making, Brandon Miller.
The Tide kept a comfortable lead throughout the game and lead 37-27 at the halftime break. In the second half Bama pushed the lead out before allowing Southern to score the final 12 points of the game to close the margin to 73-64 at the end.
Miller, as he has done since his arrival, led the Tide attack. The soon to be lottery pick lead the team in scoring with 14 points on 5-13, although he was 0-5 from deep, and added six rebounds and two steals. Ohio transfer Sears ran the point and tossed in 13 points, followed by Gurley with 12 points and six rebounds. JUCO transfer Nick Pringle shot 4-8 and scored 10 points while leading the team in rebounds with eight. Clowney added six points and tied for rebounding honors with eight. Welch led the team with three assists.
As in the scrimmage game loss to TCU last week, the Tide didn't shoot or take care of the ball very well. Overall the team shot 26-63 for 41% with only 3-22 for a paltry 13% from three point range. Free throw shooting was a plus at 18-23 for 78%. Bama committed 17 turnovers to only seven assists, and blocked five shots. The Tide dominated the boards 46-29, 19 of those 46 coming on the offensive end. SIU shot 23-56 for 41%, made 4-16 from deep for 25% and only 10-17 free throws for 59%. The visitors had 23 assists, sixteen turnovers, 10 steals, and two blocked shots.
When healthy the Tide should have the ability to go 12 deep without a lot of drop-off. Bediako appears to be a couple of weeks away and Quinerly is expected at some point in December at the earliest. Miles was in a boot and I have no information on the timetable for his return at this point. Miller is the real deal and I suggest you watch him while you can before he takes his talent on to the NBA next summer. Oats and staff should have a fast paced, fun team to watch. If they can hit some deep shots and take care of the ball better they should have a great season. The season opens on Monday, November 7th at home against Longwood, from where former Tide player Michael Kessens transferred. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. CT tipoff.