By (Matthew Speakman)

Heading into Alabama’s matchup with Charleston Southern, freshman Braxton Key was looking to continue his hot streak. Key scored a team-high 14 points and sparked Alabama’s offense early in the Crimson Tide’s 76-46 win.

“We know that Braxton [Key] is capable of doing that night-in and night-out,” said junior Riley Norris. “We saw it every day in practice leading up to the season, and in season. It helped us out tremendously. We know that he can go get it every night, and play hard and do what he does.”

Key is a player that head coach Avery Johnson wants to rely on all year. His versatility has given Alabama a mismatch at the forward position. So far, he has started the last two games, tallying 30 points total in two wins for Alabama.

“He’s playing like a high-level player,” Johnson said. “He is a guy that we can use at three, four or we can move him to two. He can pass, dribble and shoot. He shows you everyday why we were after him so much since the first day that I basically got here.”

Alabama opened up the game on a 10-0 run, with Key hitting two 3-pointers to start the game. From there, The Crimson Tide never had any trouble holding onto the lead. At one point, Alabama lead by as many as 30 points in the second half.

The team seemed to be in a rhythm from the start. Players found the open man and were able to swing the ball around the arc to find open shots against a zone defense from Charleston Southern.

“These last two days that is basically all we did was practice against zone defenses,” Johnson said. “We saw some carry over in terms of when we executed. We found guys when they were open, we made our open threes and we set good screens.”

Alabama’s bench was a big factor in the Crimson Tide’s win. The substitutes scored 46 of team’s 76 points. The bench was led by junior ArMond Davis and sophomore Avery Johnson Jr. both of whom scored in double figures to help Alabama’s offense.

“If you look at the Ball State win and the game tonight, our bench scored a lot for us and they get after it defensively,” he said. “They allow us to change our defenses. We showed a couple of different presses tonight, which fortunately led to turnovers, and we converted those turnovers. You can do that when you have a solid nine-man rotation.”

Rebounding from the forward position has been a problem for the Crimson Tide in the first five games. Aside from scoring 14 points, Key grabbed six rebounds to finish second on the team. Sophomore Donta Hall led the team in rebounds with seven overall. Rebounding from the interior is something that Johnson wants to see improve.

“Our centers have not been getting enough dirty rebounds and rebounding out of their zone, which is a pursuit situation,” Johnson said. “That is a will power, a mindset and a will to.”

Next, Alabama will travel to Austin, Texas to take on the Texas Longhorns. The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports