My apologies for the delay in posting this recap, but I've been in Tuscaloosa all weekend and did not bring my computer.
The Tide took care of business against a severely overmatched Alabama A&M team. Let's be honest, AAMU is one of the worst basketball teams in the country. Nevertheless, Alabama did exactly what they needed to do, and it was a lot of fun to watch.
John Petty set a new school record with 10 three pointers made in the game. All of his shots came from beyond the arc where he was an incredible 10 out of 13 for 30 points. They weren't all wide open, easy shots either. I recall one that he made on a catch, turn, and shoot without ever setting his feet, with a guy in his face, and moving away from the basket, nothing but net. A couple more were easily from NBA range.
Collin Sexton also played extremely well and scored 25 points himself. As a team we were 16 of 27 from 3 point range. Dazon was also in double-digits with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
It was good to see the team get off to a nice start. Collin was aggressive from the tip, and Alabama jumped out to an early 10-0 lead and the game was never in doubt.
Despite the lopsided result and all of the 3s, there are some things for the coaching staff to work on. We are still having issues switching in our man to man half-court defense, leading to easy baskets and open looks. 67 points is a lot to give up to a team like AAMU. We were out of position on quite a few rebounds, and free throw shooting continues to be atrocious, as we were only 8 of 15. We shot better from 3 point range than we did the charity stripe.
The most encouraging sign to me thus far is that Collin and JP seem to be great teammates and leaders in addition to being phenomenal players. I was concerned about Collin's attitude, and that the "one and dones" may be more focused on individual accomplishments to improve their draft position rather than actually making the team better. I think Collin may have quickly matured since the Canada trip. I haven't noticed him talking nearly as much trash during the games, but more importantly, he seems totally invested in making everyone on the team better. Even when he's not in the game he is constantly standing and talking to his teammates. It's like having an extra coach on the bench. When LawDog and Landon Fuller made their 3s in garbage time, Sexton and Petty were going crazy along with everyone else. The chemistry on this team seems to be developing nicely.
There was a decent crowd for a 6 pm tipoff. I would estimate about 8,000, with another solid student turnout. The atmosphere was loud and fun, as everyone enjoyed witnessing history with JP's ten 3 pointers, and the walk-ons getting in on the action late. I know TV revenues rule the day, but the 6pm tipoffs really hurt attendance. It's especially difficult for those of us coming from Birmingham to make the 6 o'clock starts during the week. The 8pm starts aren't much better as it puts a lot of people getting home later than they would like.
Up next, things get a lot more difficult as the UT-Arlington Mavericks come to Tuscaloosa for an 8pm start Tuesday night. UT-Arlington is a solid team, they went 27-9 last year, won the regular season sun belt championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT. They are coming off of an impressive 89-75 road win at BYU, who happens to be Bama's next opponent. Our guys will need a good crowd behind them to help pull out a victory. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.