Bama came out flat and appeared uninspired for much of the first half. The offense was stagnant with little movement and we had problems with Eagles man to man defense. Tennessee Tech was able to knock down some open 3s and get some second chance opportunities to build a 13 point lead in the first half. We finished strong after the 8 minute media timeout in the first half and was able to take a 1 point lead into halftime.
Rodney Cooper had a great game and led us to victory with 23 points including 2 of 4 from 3 point range and 11 of 14 from the free throw line. On the bright side, our defense was much better than it's been most of the season. I think the Eagles only scored once from the floor in the final 9 minutes or so.
The last couple of seasons we have played poorly in these December games immediately after finals. At least this year we found a way to avoid the embarrassing loss.
The substitution patterns did not make much sense to me. Kessens got his first start over Shannon Hale, and played reasonably well. Tarrant was said to be cramping up and did not play much in the second half, but Retin Obasohan got the bulk of his minutes over Justin Coleman. Retin played fairly well, but I still think Coleman should be getting more minutes. He's rarely used in the second half of games.
We only shot 14 three pointers in this game, and made 6. Credit to Tennessee Tech for putting an emphasis on slowing down our perimeter game. Other than Rodney Cooper, we did not make our free throws either. The normally automatic Levi was only 4 for 8.
The 8pm start on the same night as graduation resulted in a very small, apathetic gathering to watch this one. I would estimate no more than 2,000 fans in the house, with probably less than 100 students. I expect more of the same with the 2 games next weekend.
Up next, we travel to Wichita, Kansas to take on the 11th ranked Wichita State Shockers. In theory, it's a great opportunity to pick up a huge quality win on the road. In reality, we will probably be on the wrong end of a severe beat down. The game is Tuesday night at 8 pm Central time on ESPN2.