By (Matthew Speakman)

Alabama played its lone exhibition game on Monday against UAH, and there was some noticeable absences. Most notably, five-star freshman guard Collin Sexton sat out as Alabama waits for the NCAA to reinstate his eligibility.

“The NCAA informed us late this afternoon that he has not had his eligibility reinstated by the NCAA,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We don’t have any other further information at this time. We will continue to cooperate with the NCAA. We’ve been proactive throughout this whole process and work towards a situation that results in Collin’s timely reinstatement.”

Sexton’s eligibility concerns are tied to former staffer Kobe Baker’s resignation. Baker took place in a meeting in metro Atlanta, and took money with the idea of steering an Alabama basketball player towards signing with an Atlanta financial advisory.

Sexton was ruled out just moments before the game, and Johnson said he handled it as well as possible.

“We talked about if before the game,” Johnson said. “He’s handled this whole process in a first-class manner. You’re talking about a kid that has straight A’s.”

Still, Alabama picked up a win over the Chargers, 74-65. Along with Sexton, guard Ar’Mond Davis, forward Riley Norris and forward Braxton Key all missed the game. With Key specifically, he has a meniscus injury and will require surgery. Johnson said the timetable on his return will be determined after the surgery.

The late lineup shakeup led to a sluggish start for Alabama. The Crimson Tide went down 14-1 to start the game, and trailed at halftime, 35-33.

“They bring a lot of offense to our team, and defense, too,” guard Dazon Ingram said. “So, we got off to a slow start, and we had to pick it up in the second half.”

Still, Alabama fielded a team, and a lot of newcomers shined for Alabama. Forward Daniel Giddens, who sat out last year due to the NCAA’s transfer rules, had 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Giddens came to Alabama from Ohio State.

Giddens was a force for the Crimson Tide in the second half. He ignited Alabama, who started slow to begin the game. It was his first game in two years.

“I was just happy to be out there with my teammates,” Giddens said. ‘It felt great to play with them. I loved the enthusiasm of the crowd. I was just blessed to be back out there.”

Johnson was impressed with Giddens defense on the interior.

“Daniel Giddens played some monster defense in the second half,” Johnson said. “You saw what a force he can be.”

Two freshmen, John Petty and Herb Jones, also put together good performances. Petty had 14 points and nine rebounds, while Jones had 14 points and five steals.

Johnson said he loved the aggressive play of both Jones and Petty. Still, he wants to see his team settle down and play smart basketball.

“I just think as a whole, our team needs to make the simple pass,” Johnson said. “Sometimes we love to be kind of that Harlem Globetrotters team. We’re trying to break that in practice so we won’t have that carry over in the game.”

Alabama’s first official game will be against Memphis in Maryland on Friday night. The Crimson Tide will once again have to play without some key players to start the season.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports