Alabama shot better, defended a tad better, and rebounded better in defeating Oregon 99-91 to claim third place in the Emerald Beach Classic on Saturday afternoon. Mark Sears led the team to victory with his 27-point day.
Mo Wague was very productive in limited relief off the bench, and appeared a steady post option for Nick Pringle, who has struggled early this season. Alabama was never really threatened for most of the game, and was able to clear the bench for much of the contest. And though the offense bounced back from a desultory showing against the Buckeyes, the defense still has much work ahead of it.
Coach Nate Oats continued the starting five of Aaron Estrada, Sears, Rylan Griffen, Nick Pringle, and Grant Nelson. However, Pringle only played nine and a half minutes in the game. Jarin Stevenson and Mohamed Wague were given the majority of the minutes on the inside.
The Tide jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead before Oregon doubled them up for an 8-4 deficit. With 14:05 left, the Ducks had their largest lead of the game at 17-10. When Latrell Wrightsell, Sam Walters, and Estrada all connected from downtown, Bama took a 36-29 lead. Oregon battled back and led 37-36 with 2:30 seconds left. The Tide closed the half out strong, and led 47-39 at the break.
In the first half, Bama shot 17-33 for 52%, including 6-14 for 43% from deep and made 7-8 free throws, while grabbing 18 rebounds, dishing 10 assists, blocking four shots, notching five steals, and turning the ball over seven times.
Sears scored 13 points prior to intermission and had help with nine from Griffen and seven from Estrada and Nelson. Oregon was also hot with a 17-32 for 53% half, with 4-9 from deep and 1-2 at the line. The Ducks had 15 rebounds, nine assists, one block, four steals, and seven turnovers. Jermaine Couisnard had 16 points at the close of the half.
Bama was able to maintain a lead of nine- to 14 points for the majority of the second period. Estrada and Griffen heated up, and along with Sears, Nelson, and Wrightsell, were able to keep the Ducks at bay.
The Tide got sloppy with the ball late to allow Oregon to get with in striking distance, but some clutch free throw shooting kept Bama comfortable enough to not really be threatened.
In the second half the Tide shot 15-31 for 48%, just 3-10 from deep, but made 19-20 second half free throws. Overall Bama shot 50% on 32-62 from the field, 9-24 for 38% from three and a huge 93% on 26-28 from the charity stripe.
The men in Crimson totaled 40 rebounds, 15 assists, eight steals, six blocks — but did have a worrisome 16 turnovers. Sears was the best player on the floor tonight: 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. The senior guard shot 8-13 from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line in a very good all-around game.
Estrada tallied 22 points on 8-14 shooting and had four rebounds and four assists. Griffen had his best offensive game of the year with 17 points on 4-9 shooting, 2-5 from deep, and 7-8 at the line. Nelson joined the trio in double figures with 11 points and led the team with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Wrightsell played big minutes-24- off the bench and scored nine while adding seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Wague, Stevenson, and Pringle combined for 10 points, eight rebounds, with Wague blocking two shots and Stevenson one.
The Ducks shot 19-37 for 51% in the second half with 3-11 from three, and 11-13 from the line. Overall OU shot 52% on 36-69 shooting, 35% from three on 7-20 and 12-15 for 80% at the charity stripe. The Tide held Oregon to 28 rebounds and the Ducks had 20 assists, nine steals, five blocks, and 13 big turnovers. Couisnard with 24 points, six assists, and five rebounds was the star of the game for Oregon.
It was good to see the Tide’s offense return, but the defense still has a ways to go. Wague, despite only playing nine minutes, looked the part down low for a while in the first half. Stevenson is more of a stretch-four (or even a three), so against big teams he might not be the answer in the post.
Nelson did some nice things in the post on offense and defense, and if he can physically hold up might be a solution for the issue.
Alabama again flexed its depth: Ten players played in the game, with only seven logging double digit minutes, as Oats tries to find the best combinations for the tough games ahead.
Sears and Estrada are going to be the engine that makes the offense go from the looks of the first six games. Griffen waking up offensively, with Nelson doing what he does, would be a big help to the veteran back court. With so many new players it will always take a little time to piece together the best combination of players. The good thing is Oats is at the helm and will navigate those waters.
Next up for the Tide is a home game with Clemson on Tuesday, November 28th at 8:30 p.m. CT at Coleman Coliseum. The game is scheduled to be shown on ESPN.
Great day in Crimson Tide land. The basketball team bounced back with a win, and the football team tore the Barn’s heart out and stomped on it.