Alabama improved to 14-8 (5-4) with a 15 point beat down of the Georgia Bulldogs behind great nights from Kira Lewis and Tevin Mack.
Things did not start out so good. We came out flat, turned it over a few times, and the UGA bigs were having their way with Donta in the post to build an early 9-3 lead. I know this is going to sound hypocritical coming from me given how much I've harped about the need for consistent lineups, but....I think it's time to change the starting lineup.
Petty should be starting over Herbert. I really feel bad for Herbert. By all accounts he's one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and he always plays hard, but he has regressed to the point that he's a total liability on offense. Perhaps coming off the bench might help him get over the yips? Now, it may be that JP prefers the 6th man role, in which case you could even make an argument for starting Riley over Herb, though I'm not too crazy about having Riley, T-Mack, and Dazon all in the starting lineup.
In any event, things improved when we first went to the bench. Donta picked up a couple of early fouls and Galin Smith came in and gave us a spark. He was much better holding his position against the UGA bigs, and he scored 6 points in just 5 minutes of play. Unfortunately, he had to leave the game with a concussion, on a play that he was called for a foul. Give credit to Dan Giddens for stepping up when needed and being more than serviceable. He managed to play decent defense without fouling, got some big rebounds, and even made a 9 foot fade-away with the And One!
We took a 41-38 lead into halftime, and then dominated much of the second half. Our guards and wings forced a lot of mistakes from the Georgia guards and we were able to get into transition for some easy baskets. Kira Lewis carved up their defense at will. T-Mack was on his game too, and Georgia had no answers for either of them. We ran out to a 15 point lead and maintained a comfortable margin most of the way, but started turning it over and missing free throws again in the final 3 minutes. UGA cut the lead to 10, but we got enough stops and enough free throws in the final minute or so that the game was never in danger.
UGA isn't a very good team, they don't have the personnel to run the system Crean is trying to run, but this was still a big win for us. In the recent past we've had a bad habit of playing well against the better teams but struggling at home against inferior opponents. It was nice to see us take care of business.
T-Mack finished with 25 points and 6 rebounds. Kira played 36 minutes (THANK YOU!) and ended up with 24 points and 7 assists with only one turnover. Dazon got into double figures with 11 points and his obligatory 3 turnovers. Donta only played 18 minutes due to foul trouble but did pull down 8 rebounds.
It was a small, strange crowd. I would guess no more than 6,000 in attendance and many were apparently in town for football signing day festivities. It wasn't much of an atmosphere to be honest, so kudos to our team and staff for finding a way to stay motivated and focused without much crowd support from the home fans.
Up next, a trip to our personal hell, the house of horrors known as Memorial Gym on the campus of Vanderbilt University, where the Tide will take on the last place Commodores Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on SEC Network.