Alabama used it's depth, athleticism, and size to gradually pull away from an overmatched Samford team tonight. The first 10 minutes or so of the game were not pretty. Samford controlled the tempo, running a 2-3 zone on defense to go with their methodical Princeton offense. Green got off to a slow start as he seemed to be annoyed by Samford's success in denying him the ball. He was getting outworked on the boards, and Torrance made several bad decisions leading to turnovers. On the other end, we played a tight man to man defense to take away the perimeter but gave up some easy baskets on back door cuts. We gave up a couple of easy baskets against our 2-2-1 press because the man at the back (Green and Knox) was slow to getting down to the lane.
Fortunately, Torrance and Brock were able to knock down some perimeter shots, which opened up some lanes to work the ball to Green in the post. Despite the slow start, Green finished with 14 points. Torrance also turned around his slow start to finish with 15 points, but he also had 8 turnovers which is way too many. Once the offense started making some shots, the defense was able to take over the game. Samford was not able to get into their offense against our press, and we forced 20 turnovers.
Chris Hines had a very good game defensively. When I saw him matched up against a smaller player in Samford's 4 guard lineup, I was afraid they would run him through screens and get open 3's. Hines showed a lot of quickness and actually did a great job of playing defense away from the basket. He even ended up with 3 steals. Hillman and Tony Mitchell also had nice games defensively and on the boards.
We had an 11 point lead at the halftime, but we weren't able to build upon it until we went on another run around the 9 minute mark. We had a 20 point lead with 4 minutes to go, at which point Greg Cage came into the game and we pretty much called off the dogs. It was a very quick game, in part because the refs only called one foul against Samford in the second half.
With the students gone for Christmas break, it was a very small crowd, probably around 5,000 or so. The cheap admission brought out all kinds. My girlfriend had to explain to a grown man behind us (who apparently is a youth basketball coach, nonetheless) who Coach Anthony Grant is. I missed a few plays during the game because of kids and inconsiderate adults walking down the row while the ball was in play. Of course, the more people we have at the games the better, so I guess I shouldn't complain about those who actually come out, but it would be nice if they would actually watch the game; or at the very least try not to disturb those of us who are watching the game. Anyway, it was a solid win against an inferior opponent, as expected. We will need to play better this weekend, and I think we will.
Alias makes many trips per year to Central Alabama for basketball, but Saturday it will be my turn to travel south as we go to Mobile to play another top 25 team in Kansas State. The Wildcats are ranked #17 and have beaten UNLV on the road, Xavier, and Washington State all by 15 points or more. I watched them against Xavier, and they are very good. This will be a very tough game, so hopefully we can get a lot of Mobile area Bama fans to come out and help cheer on the Tide to another upset win. Tip off is tentatively scheduled for 8 p.m. It will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the South Alabama/UAB game, which starts at 5:30 pm CST at the Mitchell Center on the campus of South Alabama.