BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Avery Johnson Jr. buried a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds left in first half against Clemson, and when he walked into the locker room he led the team with five points.
With the Crimson Tide staring down a 12-point deficit, Johnson Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup during the second half. He scored a team-high (and a career-high) 17 points to more than earn his place, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Clemson from leaving town with a 67-54 victory on Sunday.
“We told our guys he’s a great layup maker and that’s a skill a lot of guards don’t have, being able to make shots over top of shot-blockers and big guys when you make penetration,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
Six of Johnson’s points were recorded as made layups, but Johnson also sunk a pair of 3’s. Brownell said the mix of those two abilities makes him dangerous for opposing teams.
His father, coach Avery Johnson said he did not plan to play his son a team-high 28 minutes.
“It [my plan] was 10-12 minutes get out and give us a spark, but like my coaches tell me if he’s doing the job and getting the job done we got to roll with him.” Johnson said.
Johnson Jr. could find himself continuing to receive more minutes or perhaps even start in the near future in place of teammate Corban Collins who left the game late with what Johnson later said was an injury to his groin. Johnson did not have any specifics to release relating to Collins injury, such as a timetable on his return, following the game.
Despite trailing by as much as 17 points in the final 10 minutes of the game, the Crimson Tide (5-5) rallied to cut the Tiger’s lead down to nine points with just over two minutes left on the clock thanks to a 7-0 run.
“We tried to focus on not having wasted possessions like in the first half so that turned [into] some of the runs,” Johnson Jr. said. “If we had done some of that in the first half I think it would have been a better outcome.”
Now Alabama must turn it’s attention to Arkansas State which the Crimson Tide will face in Huntsville, Alabama on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The team must win one of it’s next two games in order to ensure a record of .500 when Southeastern conference play starts next month.
“We have to go into this break and get this bad taste out of our mouths,” Johnson said. “And with us trying to playing games in Birmingham and now our next game in Huntsville. This is important to us, and we hope that Birmingham don’t give up on us because we’re coming back.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports