Stillman is not very good, and we basically treated this as an exhibition game, playing lots of players and experimenting with different lineups. Rodney Cooper and Ricky Tarrant got the night off. Justin Coleman and Riley Norris were joined by Devin Mitchell, who hasn't been playing much in recent games, in the starting lineup.
Coming off the heartbreaking loss at Wichita, many were concerned that there would be a hangover effect. The young starting lineup did their job and set the tone of the game right off the bat, jumping out to a 12-2 lead, while holding Stillman scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the game.
After that, it got a little sloppy, as we treaded water for the rest of the first half and only lead by 13 at the break. We pulled away in the second half, but it was a sloppy game for the most part. We only shot 3 of 20 from 3 point range, turned it over 16 times, and we had stretches during the game where we did not rebound well.
On the positive side we had 5 guys score in double figures, with Justin Coleman leading all scorers with 14. It was good to see John Gibson and Dakota Slaughter get some minutes. I thought Shannon Hale played well, despite missing 5 free throws. Levi was solid as always and Riley Norris played a great game, putting up 13 points and 7 boards. Kessens really struggled, with 4 fouls, 2 points, and a couple of bad turnovers in 16 minutes. That's Moussa Gueye/Karl Engstrom bad, and we're going to need much better production out of him in the post if we expect to beat decent teams.
One of the more exciting moments of the night came when one of the Coliseum's light bulbs blew, which sounded light a firecracker going off. The fixture was smoking for several minutes later, but thankfully nothing caught on fire.
With the students gone and an early 6 pm tipoff on a rainy Friday night during the holiday season, attendance was predictably horrible. I would estimate a gathering of no more than 1,200. I don't understand why we start games at 6pm when there is no TV. I was barely able to make tipoff myself coming from Birmingham. Stillman normally brings a decent crowd across town, but they were noticeably absent last night.
Up next, it's a quick turnaround to get ready for Appalachian State, who comes in for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff Sunday. Speaking of Birmingham, this would be a perfect game to play in the state's largest city. I'm not expecting much of a crowd going up against Sunday before Christmas church services in Ttown tomorrow night. The game will be televised on SEC Network.