Alabama 80, Oklahoma 73: Tide’s galaxy of stars outshine Sooners


By Staff
Jan. 27,

Collin Sexton battled Trae Young to a draw in the battle of draft lottery point guards, but it was the excellent play of the rest of Alabama’s players that lifted to an 80-73 home victory against No. 12 Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge.

What did we learn today?: Whenever Alabama decides someday to build the replacement to Coleman Coliseum, it can go down the roster from this game to find some wealthy donors. Nearly 60 NBA scouts and executives, some of whom paid for their own tickets just to make it inside, were on hand to watch the Sexton-Young duel. But they also got a long look at some other guys in white who could play professionally someday. Donta Hall returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a wrist fracture and had an eye-popping eight blocks to go with his nine points and seven rebounds in just 24 minutes. Herbert Jones showed off the frantic defensive energy he’s known for, but also added four assists and a career-high 14 points. John Petty got Bama rolling with three quick 3-pointers and kept up his energy and enthusiasm even when he didn’t get a shot attempt in the second half. None of those three are ready yet to leave for the NBA, but all made a great impression on the biggest stage they’ve been on yet and can count on being tracked by scouts for the rest of this season and beyond.

What was the best part of the game?: If Young chewed gum during the game, he wouldn’t have had room to blow a bubble without getting it on a Tide defender. At least five different players took turns face-guarding the nation’s leader in points and assists per game and held him to possibly his worst college game. Granted “worst” in this case was still good for 17 points and eight assists, including a couple of 3-pointers from 25-plus feet, but it was the first time since the season opener that Young scored less than 20 points. The defensive intensity also led to 13 Sooner turnovers, and Bama made them pay with a 12-0 advantage in fast break points.

Who was the star?: Sexton had more turnovers (three) than assists (two) and took a couple of jump shots of questionable value, but he meshed with his teammates better than he has since before Christmas. Making eight of his 14 shots from the floor, Sexton finished with 18 points and his share of credit for clamping down on Young like no one else has this season. He looked fully healthy while logging 32 minutes, and helped seal the win by driving to the rim and exploiting Young’s defensive flaws.

What were the biggest concerns?: Whenever Alabama gets beat, it usually is because of a toxic combination of bad foul shooting, excessive turnovers and giving up too many offensive rebounds. And that unholy trinity reared its head against OU. Bama was 12-for-22 at the line, coughed up the ball 17 times and surrendered 15 offensive boards, as the Sooners took a 38-37 edge on the glass overall. can paper over those flaws in Tuscaloosa, but to take the next step away from home there must be improvement.

What’s next?: Alabama wraps up a roller coaster January with a Wednesday visit from Missouri. Tipoff on 2 is at 8 p.m. Central.

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