Former Alabama star point guard Mo Williams brought his Jackson State team to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide Tuesday prior to their Christmas break. The Tigers fell to 1-11 and have yet to play a home game. The Tide improved to 10-2 with the win. Bama was shorthanded with Dom Welch and Nimari Burnett still injured, and Noah Clowney out with a sickness. Coach Nate Oats reported the team has been battling illness over the last several days.
The Tide started Jaden Bradley, Mark Sears, Charles Bediako, Noah Gurley, and Brandon Miller again. Bama had five players in double digits, led by Gurley with 16, Sears with 15, and Nick Pringle with 14. Miller and Bediako added 10 each.
Bama started out lethargic and fell behind to the 30 point underdogs early. The Tigers held a 9-4 lead with 17 minutes left in the half. Miller and Rylan Griffen hit three point shots and Darius Miles hit two free throws to give the Tide a 12-11 lead with 11:42 left. Pringle came in and made his presence known in his first extended action of the season. When Bradley made two free throws, the Tide had built a lead of 31-21 with 3:18 left. Turnovers allowed JSU to cut the lead to 33-32 at the half.
Alabama shot 11-29 for 38%, 3-14 from deep for 21%, and made 8-12 free throws for 67% in the half. The Tide had 26 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks, five steals, and, disturbingly, 13 turnovers. Pringle had 10 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Jackson State shot 13-38 for 33% including 3-9 from deep and 3-4 from the line. The Tigers had 19 rebounds, seven turnovers, one block, seven assists, and six steals.
The same starters came out for the second half, and The Tigers quickly took the lead at 34-33. Sears scored his first points of the game with a three pointer at 36-34 with 19:07 left. Gurley, Sears, and Jahvon Quinerly helped forge a 50-38 lead with 14:09 left in the game. Oats was called for a technical foul that stooped the momentum, all though the way the game was being called, it was probably warranted. The lead fell to 52-45 at the 12:30 mark.
The lead fluctuated seven to 12 points over the next few minutes before the Tide poured it on the last five minutes. Bediako, Sears, Miller, and Pringle helped finish the Tigers off for the 84-64 final.
In the second half Bama shot 19-34 for 56% with 4-13 from three for 30% and made 9-14 free throws for 64%. The team had 19 rebounds, 11 assists, and only four turnovers! For the game the Tide finished 30-63 for 48%, 7-27 from three for 26%, and 17-26 from the line for 65%, had 46 rebounds, six blocks, 11 steals, 20 assists, and finished with 17 turnovers. Individually Gurley had 16 points on 7-13 shooting, had five rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes. Sears scored all 15 of his points in the second half, shooting 5-10 with 3-6 from deep. Pringle was impressive with 14 points on 5-5 shooting, all dunks, and nine rebounds in 19 minutes. Miller only took seven shots, but scored 10 points with 14 rebounds, and three assists. Bediako scored his 10 points on 4-5 shooting, had nine rebounds, and two blocks in 21 minutes. The Tigers Ken Evans lead all scorers with 19 points.
Gurley was named player of the game and Pringle earned the Blue Collar Award for his tough play. This was an odd game for the Tide, coming off the tough loss to Gonzaga on Saturday and the Christmas break coming up. Being short handed and headed in to SEC play a let down of sorts could have been expected. Several other SEC teams dropped games that they were supposed to win today. Ole Miss lost to UNA, Wofford took down Texas A&M, Drake beat Mississippi State. Arkansas also lost to Oregon. Even being shorthanded Oats played eight players 18 or more minutes, with Miller leading the way with 35. You can’t say enough about Pringle taking advantage of his opportunity after averaging about four minutes a game prior to tonight.
The Tide will begin SEC play on December 28 when they travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State at 8 p.m. C.T.. The game will be on the SEC Network. With a few days off, hopefully Clowney will be over his sickness and there is a chance that Welch will be ready. Burnett is still about seven weeks away from his return. The 10-2 preseason start against the tough schedule the Tide has faced is about as good as could have been expected.