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Alabama 92, Belmont 72: Tide lands on nice list with best game to date

In its most complete game of the season, Alabama stopped Belmont’s offense cold for a dominating 92-72 victory at the Rocket City Classic in Huntsville.

What did we learn today?: The Crimson Tide is more than capable of shutting down opponents on the perimeter. The Bruins had a very similar profile to Bama, attempting just under 30 treys a game and making a little more than 10. But on Saturday Belmont only connected on 7-of-30 3-pointers, in no small part because Alabama’s aggressive defense shut down passing lanes and limited the Bruins to only nine assists, barely half their season average. In its three previous losses Belmont had been outscored by only 17 combined points, but it never got in rhythm against Alabama, shooting an anemic 40.3 percent overall.

What was the best part of the game?: Instead of resting on its laurels after ending the first half with a 16-2 run, Alabama went right back to work by going on a 14-4 run to start the second half and break the game open for good. Once again the Tide had so many different scoring threats that the opponent couldn’t find a pressure point on defense. Six players scored at least 12 points, led by freshman Jaden Shackelford scoring 16 in a surprise start. Ball movement was crisp all afternoon, as Bama got 20 assists on its 34 field goals, including eight from Kira Lewis to go with his eight assists and seven rebounds. Likewise, Hebert Jones finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Who was the star?: Make it back-to-back double-doubles for John Petty. Back in his hometown for a day, Petty scored 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting and could have had more if so many of his teammates weren’t scorching the nets as well. But it was the addition of a game-high 11 rebounds that put him over the top, plus four assists and a pair of steals to boot. When he and Lewis are clicking at the same time, Alabama can make a legitimate argument that it has as good a backcourt as any in the SEC.

What were the biggest concerns?: Alabama is going to show up on the highlight tapes of post players across America. Saturday it was 6-foot-11 Belmont sophomore Nick Muszynski lighting up the Tide with 17 first-half points on perfect 7-for-7 shooting. Bama did shut him out in the second half as the Bruins fell further behind and leaned harder on 3-point attempts, but it was still the latest data point in a troubling trend. Both Alex Reese and Javian Davis had strong offensive days, but neither is a plus defender in the paint, and things figure to get ugly this winter when they have to face the likes of a Reggie Perry at Mississippi State or Austin Wiley at Auburn.

What’s next?: Alabama rings out 2019 next Sunday at Coleman Coliseum against the Richmond Spiders. Tipoff on the SEC Network is at 5:30 p.m. Central.

Follow Chris DePew on Twitter @TideFansChris

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