Alabama got scoring from nine different players and significant minutes from 10 as the Crimson Tide took control early and took a comfortable, if not dominating, 77-64 home victory against Kennesaw State in the regular season debut of coach Avery Johnson.
What did we learn today?: The Tide has enough talent to do good things, but not enough to coast in low gear. Alabama shot slightly better than 50 percent from the field, but it was well over that mark before a 2-for-10 dry spell midway through the second half. In fairness, Avery was playing mix and match with his lineups while resting top scorer Retin Obasohan. Still, Bama was noticeably less aggressive on offense in the second half, as the shot clock reached single digits on multiple possessions. The Crimson Tide outscored KSU only 34-32 after halftime and sent the Owls to the line for 26 free throw attempts.
What was the best part of the game?: Point guard play. Freshman Dazon Ingram got the start in a mild surprise and responded brilliantly, shooting 8-for-11 from the field for 16 points and adding six rebounds and four assists against just one turnover. But Justin Coleman, who had started Bama’s exhibition game, had a team-high five assists versus two turnovers and chipped in six points, including a 3-pointer. More importantly, he looked comfortable on the floor after a shaky freshman season. The only sore spot was a combined inability to slow down KSU’s Yonel Brown (34 points).
What were the biggest concerns?: The only thing that makes Bama’s 15-for-27 showing at the foul line bearable is knowing it could have been far worse. The Tide missed 10 of its first 14 free throws and could have had an early blowout with a better touch at the line. A problem with a less obvious fix is the frontcourt play. Jimmie Taylor did not have a field goal until deep in the second half and seemed to disappear in Johnson’s quick-shot offense. He did have 10 rebounds, but the Owls edged out Alabama on the glass 39-38 despite not having a player taller than 6-foot-8.
Who was the star?: Obasohan scored 18 points and added three steals, but earned this as much in his absence as when he was on the floor. While he was resting for an extended stretch in the second half, KSU cut a 17-point lead down to seven. The senior guard did much of his damage driving to the basket, finishing 6-for-10 from the field, including 5-for-6 from inside the arc.
What’s next?: Alabama visits NCAA tournament participant Dayton (1-0) for a noon Central tipoff Tuesday on ESPN.
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