When Alabama returned home for the first time in almost a month the team looked quite different from the one that scored over 100 points the last time it competed in Tuscaloosa.
There were two new faces in the lineup on Wednesday night. Justin Coleman replaced Dazon Ingram at point guard after Ingram suffered a season-ending injury last week and Michael Kessens replaced Shannon Hale.
At first Alabama struggled to score and it looked like the Crimson Tide would be lucky to score 60, but a strong 16-point second half (after a two point first half) from Coleman helped Alabama cruise past Winthrop 72-60.
“He’s like a microwave,” Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey said. “He can heat up quick. If you let him get momentum.”
Before tonight Hale and Ingram were the team’s No. 2 and No. 4 leading scorers. Both players were also top rebounders (No. 4 and No. 1 respectively) for the team as well. Their absence was felt at first, but then Jimmie Taylor stepped up.
Taylor scored five points in the final three minutes of the first half to help Alabama regain the lead. When the second half started, Taylor picked up where he left off and the Crimson Tide never lost control of the game or the lead.
Taylor finished the night with a season-high 14 points and he tied a career-high 11 rebounds to finish with his third career double-double.
“That’s the good thing about our team we got a lot of guys that step up big time,” Coleman said. “If one person goes down then the next person step up.”
Avery Johnson said Hale is likely to miss one more game if not more going forward. Johnson said his team has handled adversity well so far this season. Now it will have to handle a little more with a trip to Birmingham to fatayloce the Oregon Ducks looming on Monday.
“I knew it was going to be an uphill battle, and I liked the way we bounced back [since losses to Dayton and Xavier],” Johnson said. “Look at how our team came out and put together a nice game back at the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum. So, it’s good to be back home.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports