Alabama 67, Arkansas State 52: Defensive revival saves day in Rocket City Classic


By Chris DePew
Dec. 21,

Down two starters and coming off its worst game of the season, responded with closest thing it has had to a quality win, defeating Arkansas 67-52 before a crowd at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center.

What did we learn today?: Once again, any Crimson success begins with lockdown defense. Bama’s offensive effort ranged from atrocious at the beginning to encouraging at the end, but the defense was locked in for all 40 minutes against the dangerous Red Wolves. ASU averaged 78 points while winning nine of its first 11 games, including upsets of Georgetown and Chattanooga. But the Wolves were uncharacteristically cold behind the arc, making just four 3-pointers, including a pair in garbage time to avoid a final score in the 40s. took advantage of its superior size with nine blocked shots and won the rebound battle 43-40 while surrendering few uncontested shots. Gradually ASU got frustrated and rushed shots that led to Bama breakouts.

What was the best part of the game?: Watching a pair of senior subs make an impact. stepped up with battling foul trouble to score a dozen points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field. Shannon Hale scored seven of his nine points in the first half with a quick flurry to put Bama ahead for good after hit the deck hard on a flagrant foul. That incident, and the jawing under the basket that followed, seemed to shake the out of its early lethargy.

Who was the star?: Taylor led all Bama scorers and Ingram added 10 points but Braxton Key had the most complete game. He finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, added a pair of blocks and also took a couple of key charges while denying the Red Wolves easy access to the paint.

What were the biggest concerns?: Another game, another wave of turnovers. Bama turned it over 14 times Wednesday, mostly while trying to jump-start an ineffective half-court offense. Jr. struggled in his first career start, going 3-for-12 from the field when no other player tried more than eight shots. The forward spot opposite Key remains unsettled, with Riley Norris struggling with his shot until garbage time (although he did finish with nine boards). Despite four blocked shots, Hall took a step back overall, losing several battles on the glass and finishing with just five points and four rebounds.

What’s next?: ’s final nonconference tuneup will be back in on Dec. 29 versus Stetson. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Central and will shown online only via Network-Plus.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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