By (Tyler Waldrep)

The bench wasn’t where Alabama freshman Braxton Key expected to spend most of the first half of Alabama’s 68-56 victory over the Missouri Tigers, but he didn’t mind cheering for his team when two early fouls limited the starter to a team-low five minutes in the first half.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been in foul trouble so especially within SEC so I’ve learned I have to adjust second half,” Key said. “But watching my guys, like Riley stepped up, everyone’s capable of stepping up. So I have a lot of confidence in my teammates when I come off the court.”

Key said he’s watched Norris elevate his game over the last week of practice ever since the team began preparing for LSU.

“It doesn’t surprise me to see him have a great first half like that,” Key said. “We just joking around I think we traded roles I was the slasher at the beginning of the season, now he’s taking it to the basket, getting to the free throw line and I’m the 3-point specialist.”

From the bench Key watched as Norris scored 11 points while shooting four of six from the field. The rest of Alabama (11-6, 4-1 Southeastern conference) combined to score 15 points while shooting six of 24 from the field.

The Missouri Tigers (5-12, 0-5) weren’t much better in the half (19 points while shooting six of 20 from the field), but the box score didn’t bother Missouri coach Kim Anderson too much.

The Missouri Tigers weren’t much better in the half (19 points while shooting six of 20 from the field), but the box score didn’t bother Missouri coach Kim Anderson too much.

“I thought it was a fairly ugly basketball game, which is kind of the way we wanted it to be,” Anderson said. “You got to give a lot of credit to Alabama. First half they struggled from the field, second half they came out and made some key shots.”

Key had a hand in many of those shots, but at first it appeared his second half would be as forgetful as his first. He turned the ball over twice and was called for his third foul in the first three and a half minutes of action, but he followed the foul call up with a 3-pointer that gave the freshman his first points of the night.

He finished the half with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. At the final buzzer he finished as Alabama’s No. 4 scorer trailing Norris and Avery Johnson Jr. who each led the team with 13 points and Dazon Ingram who finished with 12.

“They weren’t looking at me trying to get a play called,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said of his team after the game. “They took some responsibility and I like the way the ball was moving in the second half and we were ready to shoot and we took quality shots both inside and outside the 3-point line.”

The victory gave the Crimson Tide its best SEC start since the 2012-13 campaign that also began 4-1 after the team reeled off four straight victories after the team dropped its SEC opener, but Johnson said his team has not grown overconfident.

“I think the main thing is they’re confident in our abilities to get stops and rebounds,” Johnson said. “We want that same confidence to move into when team’s zone us. We need that consistent confidence. We’re getting from one half, but not both halves.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports