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By Chris DePew
Jan. 9, 2018
Alabama shot nearly 59 percent from the field despite an off night from Collin Sexton and ended a two-game skid by whipping South Carolina 76-62 in Tuscaloosa.
What did we learn today?: Playing at Coleman Coliseum provides a real advantage for this team to build on. The Crimson Tide faced many of the same obstacles it did in Saturday’s meltdown at Georgia. A star freshman guard unable to score. Dazon Ingram rendered ineffective (if not missing like he was in Athens). An opponent unexpectedly getting hot behind the arc in the first half. But instead of panicking again, Bama shrugged its shoulders and continued working its gameplan – get the ball to the big men in the paint (14-for-15 combined) and deny Chris Silva on defense at all costs. It will take more than winning at home for Alabama to break its NCAA tournament drought, but with a half-dozen home games left against teams currently projected to be in the field, the opportunity for quality wins is there.
What was the best part of the game?: The rise of the bench players. Between a desire for a bigger starting five and the aftermath of an awful week on the road, John Petty helped skew this category. But even if you deduct his 15 points, Alabama’s reserves outscored their counterparts 20-16. Avery Johnson Jr. soaked up valuable minutes to ease the pain of Sexton’s foul trouble and erratic play, not to mention Ingram’s need for extended rest coming off a weekend bout with the flu. Johnson had 10 points and no turnovers in 16 minutes. Galin Smith added six points and four rebounds. And Daniel Giddens made the most of his spot start, notching 11 points before running into foul trouble. With so many players contributing, none had to play more than 27 minutes.
Who was the star?: As soon as he hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half, it was clear that Petty would have a good scoring game. But those shots seemed to not only boost his confidence in his shot (5-for-8 overall, 3-for-6 from deep) but lift his entire game. Petty added three assists and four rebounds, plus was an active force on defense and a vocal leader with the ball.
What were the biggest concerns?: The Tide started strong in each half before having some pretty significant lapses in concentration after building big leads. The Gamecocks cut a 17-point deficit down to seven by halftime, then got down by 23 points only to shave that down to as low as 12 in the last two minutes. And some bad habits that Alabama had been working to mitigate cropped back up. Bama had 16 turnovers and was a middling 9-for-14 at the foul line.
What’s next?: Alabama tries for its first winning streak since Black Friday when it visits LSU on Saturday. Tipoff on the SEC Network is at 7:30 p.m. Central.
Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris
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