Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tide 65 Tennessee Tech 53.

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.

1 comment:

Msmilie said...

I think Kessens got the start for two reasons: 1] I think Grant was trying to match up with Tech's post duo, Jackson and Caldwell. It didn't work. The offense doesn't run through either Jimmie or Mike so there was little chance of really forcing Tech's guys into having to play defense and perhaps causing some early foul trouble. With that said, Jackson's 2nd foul in the 1st half was a big key in Bama putting together a run to close the half with the 1 point lead. 2] Shannon Hale has really struggled so far this season, particularly on the defensive end. Maybe Grant was trying to send a message. It seemed to work in the 1st half as Shannon had a solid half. But if I remember correctly, he disappeared in the 2nd half. Shannon's sophomore slump up to this point has been a real disappointment.

I thought the game could possibly be a struggle with Tech's strength being in the frontcourt. Plus it was fair to wonder how much energy the team would have coming off finals week, and a big road game looming on Tuesday. I'm encouraged that they found a way to overcome some adversity in the game (being down 13, losing Tarrant, continued defensive struggles in the 1st half) and get the win. As you pointed out, they've lost these types of games in the past.

Regarding substitutions: I think Grant put Retin out there because the way the game was going, he needed some experience and someone he felt comfortable with on the defensive end. Justin has a bright future, but has a long way to go physically before he can be a top notch defender. And, frankly, he didn't play that well. In 18 minutes he had 3 points on 1-5 shooting, no assists, and no steals (in fairness, he also had no turnovers).The move worked. Retin played his best game of the season by far. The benefit of having depth this season is that Grant can weigh his options a little more based on how the game is playing out.

Coop has quietly had a hell of a season so far. From a scoring standpoint: the game last night was his third 20 pt scoring game of the season. He only had one of those last season. He's playing with improved confidence in all phases of the game. It's great to see. He carried the team on his back at times last night. That speaks to the improved balance of this year's team.

I really don't understand the thought process in scheduling that game on a Saturday after graduation. Maybe move the game to Friday night or Sunday afternoon. Even without the graduation ceremony, I'm not sure you can count on a great crowd on a Saturday night at 8 PM for a game against an OVC opponent. If the argument was it was for TV, uh yeah it was for SEC Network +. Whether the game is at 8 PM or 3 PM, it would be on SEC Network +. The program is having a tough enough time drawing crowds without tipping games off at funky times.

Tough game on Tuesday night. Our guys will have to play out of their minds to come out of there with a win.