Bola got the start over Hale, but Tony Giles didn't get the memo, incorrectly announcing Shannon Hale during the intros. We jumped out to an early 10-2 lead after forcing a couple of turnovers. Dayton was double teaming Jimmy and trying to fight through screens, and Taylor did a good job of finding the open man.
Credit Archie Miller for making some adjustments. They started switching on more screens and delaying their double-downs on Jimmie, which brought our half-court offense to a grinding halt. We simply don't appear to have anybody on this roster capable of creating and making their own shot in a half-court set.
Once again we continued the revolving door of substitutions in the first half trying to find the right combo. Dayton went on a run and took a 6 point lead before Bama answered with a run to close the half and take a 36-31 lead into the locker room.
The second half was a foul fest, and neither team could shoot free throws worth a damn. The last 8 minutes or so were back and forth with neither team able to fully take control of the game. Dayton made a huge 3 to go up by 4 with about a minute and a half remaining. Alabama continued to battle back, but couldn't get a stop when badly needed. Still, we had the ball down 3 with less than 30 seconds to play, but Collins missed an open 3 from the corner. Another key mistake came with about 40 seconds to play down 3 when Ingram made a bad decision after driving to the basket and tried to throw it back out to the perimeter resulting in a turnover.
Dayton is a good team, and we gave them all they wanted, but give credit where it is due. Their seniors showed tremendous poise and made some great plays down the stretch to get the win.
I still think we are passing up too many shots. Hale did not have a good day, but I did not agree with taking him out of the game twice after he missed fairly open looks from 3 point range. We were better when the game was played at a faster tempo, but the offense really struggled in half-court sets. Defensively, we still have a ways to go to develop the chemistry and communication needed to win these types of games. We gave up way too many open 3s in the half court set due to not communicating on screens or not switching back and giving them favorable mismatches. I liked the press after made free-throws and we were able to force a few turnovers that way, but with the skill of Dayton's guards I don't think it would have been productive to press much more than we did.
Braxton Key had a great second half and ended up with 15 points. Corban and Dazon also played well, scoring 15 and 14 respectively. Jimmie had 8 points but only 1 rebound. Donta pulled down 5 boards, including 3 offensive, but was unable to convert into points. Nick King struggled and did not look healthy to me, he spent a lot of time on the bike and the trainers checked on him a couple of times. Avery Jr dribbles too much in my opinion, but he did play better in limited action in the second half, scoring on a drive to the basket. I think our best lineup is Dazon, Corban, Riley, Braxton, and Jimmie. You can substitute Hale for Riley when the good version of Hale shows up.
The crowd was a little better than I expected, but I would still guess only about 6,500 or so. I was pleased to see one small group of students allowed back on the floor, maybe about 15 seats or so, but they were forced to sit down by the ushers after an older lady seated directly behind them complained. I can sort of see both sides of that issue, but they shouldn't have done away with the risers that were in place last season, in my opinion. Dayton had a respectable following considering the distance, time of game, and inconvenient location. There was about 150 Flyer fans scattered throughout. The crowd was energized and into the game throughout, and at least we were treated to a close, entertaining game.
Up next, the Ball State Cardinals come to town for an 8pm tipoff Friday night at Coleman Coliseum. This will be our final hosting game of the Las Vegas Main Event tournament before we head to MGM Grand next week. If you can't make it to Tuscaloosa, the game will be broadcast on SEC Network.