Alabama led Mississippi State by 12 at the half, but that lead evaporated quickly in the second half. When the Bulldogs tied it up, Alabama coach Avery Johnson decided he needed to have a chat with his team.
“In our time out I talked less strategy and more let’s rewind the tape and talk about some of the games we had in our non-conference where we’ve been in this situation before,” Johnson said. “…We talked about what happened to us at Oregon or Texas and I talked more about that. I was more of a psychologist than a basketball coach.”
Johnson’s pep talk seemed to work as it inspired the team to a 68-58 victory on Tuesday night. The Crimson Tide (8-5, 1-0) will likely need a little more from the offense if the team is going to remain unbeaten in Southeastern conference play when Vanderbilt (8-6, 1-0) comes to town on Saturday night at 6.
The Commodores are currently averaging 73.43 points per game and defeated Auburn 80-61 on Wednesday evening. That win impressed Johnson who said his team probably would have also struggled against the Commodores if the two had met on Wednesday when Matthew Fisher-Davis scored a career-high 33 points while shooting 7-of-14 beyond the arc.
“We’re going to have to play our best brand of basketball on both ends of the floor for a consistent part of the game,” Johnson said.
Practices, as of late, indicate the Crimson Tide is finally confident enough to run the offense as Johnson envisions it. He said his point guards look at him for direction less now which helps the team go faster.
Now in SEC play is the time when Alabama, winners of three straight, will get the chance to prove its challenging non-conference schedule wasn’t for nothing.
“Hopefully you don’t have to wait until the end of February [to learn how to win],” Johnson said. “You hope that if you compare it to kind of the NBA deal, our first 12 non-conference games were kind of like the regular season. Now we’re in the playoffs. Now we have to show a sign of growth.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports