After failing to cash in at the free throw line in three of the Crimson Tide’s last five games, Alabama hit the jackpot against Mississippi State.
“You see your teammates in the game making free throws it’s contagious,” Braxton Key said. “I’m not sure who hit their shot first, probably Dazon [Ingram], [he] shot pretty well tonight… He’s been shooting pretty bad from the free throw line so if he can make a free throw you we all can make a free throw.”
Headed into Saturday the Crimson Tide finished under 53 percent from the line (for the first time this season) on three separate occasions since Jan. 10, but in the 71-62 victory over the Bulldogs the Crimson Tide (13-7, 6-2 Southeastern conference) knocked down a season-high 31 on a season-high 36 attempts for a season-high 86.1 percent.
“We made our free throws tonight and tonight was a great night for us to make them,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said.
Ingram finished the night 12 of 12 from the line after struggling to convert during the viewing portion of practice on Friday. Key turned 10 of his own opportunities in for points to lead the team with a game-high 19 points.
Mississippi State (13-7, 4-4 SEC) retook the lead for the first time during the second half with just over six to play when Quinndary Weatherspoon knocked down a 3-pointer, but the Bulldogs’ hold on the lead was short-lived.
“Pretty sure we got an offensive rebound, and Dazon had it at the top of the key and I just saw an opening in the corner so I just decided to sprint there and I was wide open,” Key said
Johnson said Key’s settled down since he was moved to the two position for the last two games. The 3 he knocked down to retake the lead for the Crimson Tide is just one example.
“Braxton had the confidence to take and make a big shot,” Johnson said. “You know he’s a different player than he was earlier in the year.”
Alabama’s starting lineup is different too. For the second straight game Alabama started Ingram, Key, Riley Norris, Bola Olaniyan and Donta Hall.
Each starter finished with either a minimum of 13 points or six rebounds or, in the case of Key (nine rebounds), both. Olaniyan led the team with a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Overall I’m proud of our team,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a long week for a lot of reasons, because a week ago we weren’t a happy basketball team. The Sunday following that game [the 20-point loss to Auburn] we were very dejected, but I like the way they’ve responded.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports