Sunday, February 23, 2014
Tide Tramples Top 50 Tigers, Bama 80-Mizzou 73
Welcome back Levi Randolph! This is why I've been saying all year that he should be more aggressive and shoot the ball. I'm not saying he's going to give us 33 points every night, but he can certainly be a 15-20 ppg guy that this team so desperately needs.
We actually scored first in this game, which was a refreshing change. Both teams ran a lot of zone, and as expected Mizzou initially focused their defensive efforts on stopping Releford. Levi was able to find some soft spots both through the backdoor and in transition to get a couple of dunks in the first half that seemed to build his confidence. At halftime, Levi had 19 points and we held a 42-35 lead. Mizzou was able to make enough jump shots over our zone to keep it close.
Levi got us started in the second half with another 3 right off the bat, and Bama stretched the lead to 11 within the first 4 minutes of the second half. We went through a stretch where we made some poor decisions with the basketball on offense. A couple of plays that really stick out in my mind: Algie drove in and the lane collapsed leaving a wide open Levi on the wing, and Algie threw up a desperation off balance shot, then a couple of possessions later, Retin drove to the basket and tried a drop pass to Carl in traffic, predictably resulting in a turnover. Meanwhile, Mizzou had one guy who was able to burn our zone for 3s, but otherwise was able to attack the basket and get to the free throw line where they were 22 of 29.
I feared if we ever relinquished the lead, we would not be able to come back. Mizzou had cut the margin to around 2 with about 4 minutes left, when Levi once again stepped up and knocked down an open 3. This prompted the Mizzou defense to shift their focus to Randolph, double-teaming him, which left Relly open for a 3 on the next possession. The 2 point lead quickly grew to 8, and that was pretty much the game.
While the story of this game was Levi's career high 33 points, it was a great team effort. The defense was not great, and I thought we should have played a bit more man when Earnest Ross was torching us from the line, we made the stops and got the rebounds when we had to down the stretch. Everybody who played, saw double-digit minutes, and with the exception of Carl, everybody scored.
I think a lot of us watched the aTm game and thought this team had quit. It's great to see them battle back and get a win against a quality team. We put a big dent in Mizzou's tourney hopes, and hopefully this will be a springboard to clawing out of the bottom 4 of the SEC standings and making a run in the SEC tournament.
The crowd was one of the most sparse of the year, I would estimate about 2,500 in the house, including about 300 Mizzou fans scattered throughout. That being said, those who did show up were loud, energetic, and into the game, and the players and coaches seemed to appreciate the support.
Up next, we go to Oxford, MS for the rematch with the Ole Miss Rebels Wednesday night at 7 pm. As far as I know, the game will only be televised on ESPN3. I think it is imperative for us to get a road win before the tournament in order to build some confidence, and this is our last semi-realistic chance to do so.