Alabama forced some early turnovers with the press and jumped out quickly to a 9-0 lead. However, the offense then went stagnant and Charleston Southern was able to come all the way back and take the lead before the Tide regained control to take a 36-27 lead into the half.
Rodney Cooper sat out with shoulder tendinitis, and was replaced by Devonta Pollard in the starting lineup. Carl Engstrom also got the start ahead of Moussa Gueye. Both Pollard and Carl responded with solid performances. Trevor Lacey was all over the court at the beginning of the game making defensive plays, but he did not have one of his better games offensive. On the other hand, Releford had a great day and was very comfortable shooting the ball from his point guard position, going 5 of 8 from downtown.
The team looked flat overall for much of the game, and they especially got lazy on offense against the zone in the second half. Charleston Southern is not a bad basketball team. Their bad record is somewhat deceiving, as they are picked to win their conference and they played a good Arizona team within single digits on the road. I was concerned we might have a bit of a let down, with the Bucs not being a big name opponent and coming off the wins in New York.
Charleston Southern was able to stay within shouting distance thanks to some sloppy play, missed open shots, and missed free throws. Coach Grant picked up a technical foul after what appeared to be phantom offensive foul call on Moussa Gueye, allowing Charleston Southern to cut the lead to 4. I am not sure that Grant intended to get the technical, but the team seemed re-energized from that point forward. A CSU player committed a technical foul of his own a couple of minutes later, and the Tide never looked back.
It was a solid crowd considering the opponent and the other things going on Friday night.. I would say there was about 7,000 people there, but it was a late arriving crowd. Up next, Pat Knight brings his Lamar Cardinals in from Beaumont, TX for a 7 pm tipoff at Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night.