Playing in its home gym for the first time in nearly a month and without starting forward Shannon Hale, Alabama worked its way out of an early scoring funk to build a huge second-half lead and coast to a 72-60 win against Winthrop.
What did we learn today?: The Crimson Tide has more than one way it can win. Hale was declared out less than an hour before tipoff with an unspecified medical issue, removing a crucial part of Bama’s offense. Dazon Ingram was already lost for the year. And when Retin Obasohan exited with his second foul with 10:03 left in the half and Alabama stuck on 11 points, it was unclear where the offense was going to come from. Turned out the Tide had an old trick up its sleeve: the low post game. Center Jimmie Taylor hit all three of his field goals in the half, scoring eight of his 14 points before intermission to give the Tide a 32-27 halftime lead. Arthur Edwards and Brandon Austin added seven each in the half as Alabama reaped the dividends of using so many different players in the opening five weeks.
What was the best part of the game?: After an icy 1-for-6 shooting performance in the first half, Obasohan scored eight points in the first six minutes after intermission as Alabama broke the game open, eventually leading by as many as 23 points. He finished with 12 points and for once had plenty of company on the stat sheet, as Edwards added 11 and Justin Coleman heated up late for a team-high 18 points. That kind of shared scoring load is crucial, especially if Hale continues to miss games.
Who was the star?: Taylor finally had the breakout game the Tide has been waiting for, going 5-for-6 from the field, collecting 11 rebounds to lead Alabama to a plus-10 rebounding margin, playing 30 minutes and collecting only one foul on a night his team could not do without him until putting the game away late. After playing with passion in a nine-rebound performance at Clemson, the junior now has back-to-back solid games under his belt and may finally be maturing into a leader, even if he may never be a top-end scoring threat.
What were the biggest concerns?: Alabama hadn’t played a game in Coleman Coliseum since November 20, and looked like it on offense until late in the first half. The breakneck pace Coach Avery Johnson wants has been throttled back considerably with Coleman and Obasohan splitting point guard duties, and when Bama can’t get transition baskets it struggles to create offense out of its half-court sets. Coleman seemed to lose focus at times and didn’t put enough zip on his passes, leading to turnovers. That may have been due in part to his increased workload (36 minutes) that resulted from Obasohan’s foul trouble. The offense still doesn’t seem dialed in with just three games left until SEC play.
What’s next?: Alabama plays its first Birmingham game in four years Monday night when Pac-12 darkhorse Oregon visits for an 8 p.m. matchup on ESPNU.
Comment now using your Facebook login!
Powered by Facebook Comments