The Alabama Crimson Tide took to the road for the first time, traveling to Mobile to take on the South Alabama Jaguars, and won the game by a score of 65-55 despite poor shooting. The Tide rode outstanding defense and dominance on the boards to improve to 3-0 on the season. A pair of freshmen were the leaders as Brandon Miller was named player of the game and Noah Clowney garnered the hard hat award.
Coach Nate Oats stuck with the starting lineup of Miller, Clowney, Mark Sears, Charles Bediako, and Nimari Burnett for the contest. Miller got the Tide out of the gate quickly hitting an early three point shot and two free throws, and Bama never trailed in the game. Bediako was called for two quick fouls and was replaced by Nick Pringle just three minutes in.
Miller hit another long range shot that was followed by a make from Sears to give the Tide a 12-4 lead with 15:43 left in the first half. Four minutes later the Jags had cut the lead to 12-6 as both teams were having trouble getting the ball in the basket. Bama was, however, dominating the glass to the tune of a 12-1 rebounding margin at the time. A Rylan Griffen steal and layup gave the Tide a 20-9 lead that felt like it should have been much larger.
After the hot start from behind the arc Bama cooled considerably, only 3-14 with five minutes left-before Noah Gurley hit two from deep late in the period. At the break the Tide held a lead of 32-22.
Alabama shot a frigid 29% in the first half on 11-38 shooting, including 5-20 from three and made only 5-9 free throws for 55%. The Jaguars were even worse, shooting 9-33 for 27% including just 1-10 from deep while making 3-7 free throws. The Tide had 35 rebounds to 20 for USA at intermission, with 16 of those being of the offensive variety for the visitors.
Burnett made his first three point basket of the season with 18:05 left in the game for a 35-24 Tide advantage. The lead stayed anywhere from nine to 16 points over the next several minutes. Jaden Bradley added his first three pointer of the season with 13:33 left. Miller and Sears added a couple more each as Bama pushed the lead out to 20 with 7:28 to play. Jahvon Quinerly, working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in the NCAA Tournament last spring, made his first appearance of the season.
With a large lead and a few minutes left the Tide got sloppy with the ball and had a hard time scoring for the rest of the contest. Miller hit his last three with 4:26 left for a 62-45 lead, and then the team was outscored 10-3 over the remainder of the game.
Bama “improved” to 11-30 for 37% in the second half including 5-15 (33%) from three and 6-11 from the free throw line. Overall the team finished at 32% on 22-68 shooting, 10-35 from three for 28% and 11-20 for 55% from the free throw line. The Tide snatched 63 rebounds, dished out 11 assists, blocked nine shots, stole four balls, and committed 21 turnovers. The Jags shot 12-38 in the second for 31% including just 1-13 from deep and made 8-11 free throws. For the game USA finished 21-71 for 29%, 2-23 from deep for 9%, and 11-18 for 61 on free throws. The home team had 40 rebounds, only four assists, five blocks, seven steals, and nine turnovers.
Individually Miller led the way with 19 points on 5-16 shooting- 4-9 from three point range-and added eight rebounds, three assists, and a block. Miller was the only Tide player in double figures. Clowney had eight points and 15 huge rebounds to go with three blocked shots as he was a beast down low all night. Sears tossed in nine points and grabbed four rebounds. Gurley had eight points and seven rebounds and Bediako had five points and seven rebounds in only 11 minutes of foul plagued action. Burnett and Bradley contributed seven points each.
The good, the bad, and the ugly:
The good was the defense and rebounding once again, both of which tell a lot about effort and “want to.” The bad was 21 turnovers, way too many, and the ugly was the shooting, including from the free throw line. To shoot that poorly and win a road game against a quality team shows that this team does the dirty work.
After the game Oats said “offensively we have a lot of work to do” but was pleased with the effort on the boards and defense. Oats continues to say he has really good shooters that shoot lights out in practice. If that eventually carries over to games this will be an extremely dangerous squad.
Quinerly coming back from such a devastating injury in just around eight months is nothing short of miraculous. It will be interesting to see how he will be used going forward with Sears and Bradley also working at point guard. Darius Miles and Dom Welch are still out with injury which will further increase the depth of the squad. Nine players notched double digit minutes in the game with Miller’s 36 and Clowney’s 28 leading the way. Gurley took the second most three point attempts in the game which is not an ideal scenario, and he made 2 of 8. Oats has said that everyone has the green light, but perhaps some should notice the yellow light a little more often.
The Tide returns home for a Friday night game with Jacksonville State. The game will be at 8 p.m. CT and will be shown on the SEC Network. The late night Tide have played at 7:30, 7:00, and 9:00 in their first three games. After Friday nights late start the trend will continue as Bama will take on Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. CT on Thanksgiving Night in Oregon.