Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bama Comes From Behind, Takes Cocks in Overtime, Alabama 67, Jacksonville State 59.

This team has shown they are capable of beating some very good teams, but they've also shown they could very easily lose to some pretty bad teams.

This is a game we should have won easily.  Alabama is bigger, more talented, and more athletic than JSU at every position.  Unfortunately we came out flat, the shots were not falling, JSU shot the ball fairly well, outworked us on the glass, and was able to take the game into overtime.

JSU was hot from the outside in the first half, and took a 2 point lead into halftime.  Alabama turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and was able to build a 13 point lead with 11 minutes left, but allowed the Cocks to come back and send it to overtime.

We had some success when we pressed after made free throws, and I thought we should have pressed more in the second half.  JSU had a difficult time handling it, and we had a chance to put the game away with the 13 point lead.

The Cocks had no answer for Jimmie Taylor.  He scored 13 points and had 5 blocked shots, but I believe he could have easily scored 20+ if we would have got him the ball more.  There were several occasions where he had the ball on the low block in the post, and inexplicably passed it back out to the perimeter instead of going up over the small defender.  We couldn't make a jump shot, so I'm not sure why we kept chunking it up from the outside.

With the exception of Art Edwards, who played fantastic, the backcourt had an awful night.  After the great game in Birmingham, Justin came back with a 6 point, 3 assist, and 5 turnover performance, including going 0 for 5 from three point range.  To his credit, he did make his last 4 free throws in overtime to put the game away.

Speaking of free throws, 28 for 43 is unacceptable, we were under 60% in regulation.  I also note that we shot 43 free throws to JSU's 8.  That's not overly surprising considering how physically out-matched Jacksonville State was, but that's a huge margin and we probably did get the benefit of the doubt on a few calls.  They had 3 guys foul out, which was a huge benefit for us in the extra period.

I was glad to see Greg Tucker for them foul out, he made some big 3's for them, but frankly he was a turd.  He talked a lot of trash to our guys during dead balls, constantly whined to the officials, and flexed in front of our bench and plenty of  other non-sense.

Retin Obasohan was terrible on offense, and he missed a pair of free throws at the end of regulation that could have won the game.  To his credit, he did not allow his poor shooting to effect his defense. Regardless, we aren't going to win many games getting this level of production from our back court, especially if we shoot 5 of 24 from 3 point range and under 60% at the line.

We were also out rebounded 41-37, and they had 15 offensive rebounds to our 10.   That should never happen against a smaller, slower team.

Riley Norris had a good game with a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Donta Hall only played 6 minutes but had 2 points and 4 rebounds in that time.  I would have liked to have seen him when Jimmy was out of the game in the second half.

Shannon Hale dressed out but did not play.  Art Edwards had to come out of the game briefly in the first half after re-injuring his ankle, but he returned and played well.

Overall, we played about as poorly as we have all year, but still found a way to win a close game.

The crowd was better than expected, I would estimate close to 6,000 were there, including maybe 100 or so rather vocal Jacksonville State supporters.  I was not surprised by their following; I lived in Calhoun County for a couple of years and while JSU is definitely a football school, the Anniston/Oxford/Jacksonville/Gadsden communities and surrounding area takes a lot of pride in their school.  They've now taken auburn to overtime in football, us to overtime in hoops, and are playing in the FCS championship game, so it's been a good year for them.

  The atmosphere was extremely quiet until the final minutes of regulation and the overtime period when the home crowd finally started to make some noise.  With the students gone and the band presumably already in Dallas, they allowed students from Bibb County and Sipsey high schools to play the role of the pep band.  A couple of changes I noticed to Coleman, there is now a small curtain between the cheerleaders and band behind the basket, and there's a new camera well near the tunnel closest to our bench in Section F.  I didn't think to take pics, but will try to remember for the next game.

Up next, the Norfolk State Spartans come to Tuscaloosa for a 1 pm tipoff Saturday.  Norfolk State has been a solid program recently, but they are struggling this year, currently sitting at 5-9, losers of 5 of their last 6, coming off a 68-57 loss to Old Dominion.  Nevertheless, it will take a better effort than we got against JSU to end the non-conference slate on a winning note.



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