By (Matthew Speakman)

Alabama freshman guard John Petty’s three-point shooting has won Alabama numerous games this season. At home against No. 11 Auburn on Jan. 17, Petty hit eight threes to propel Alabama to an important home win.

While his shooting gives Alabama an edge, his shot selection has been questionable in certain situations. Taking the right shot at the right time has been part of his growing up process. He’s embraced constructive criticism and continues to mature in his shot selection.

Petty has shot fewer than 10 shots in eight of Alabama’s last 10 games.

“The way our offense has been playing, we’ve been playing good, and (head coach Avery Johnson) calls those shots a breakdown in offense and they’ll ruin the momentum,” Petty said. “As me being mature and growing to the next level, I’ve been thinking of the game. Knowing which shots to take, where is my window, and just try to think the game through more.”

Still, Petty knows how dangerous he can be when he has the hot hand. He gives himself the green light when he finds a big enough window to shoot. In games like his big performance against Auburn, he can go on a run of hitting multiple three-pointers in a row.

On Tuesday, Alabama travels to Mississippi State for another road game after defeating Florida by 18 on Saturday. Petty is hoping to get on a roll again against the Bulldogs.

When he gets on a roll, there’s no stopping him from shooting. He wants the ball in his hands.

“When I make two or three in a row, I have to get a heat check.” Petty said. “I really have to take that bad shot then, just to go for it.”

Petty was a five-star recruit from Jemison High School in Huntsville, Alabama. He earned Mr. Basketball honors for the state of Alabama his last two season of high school.

His decision to choose Alabama over Kentucky was one of the biggest recruiting wins of the Johnson era. The expectations surrounding Petty and fellow freshman guard Collin Sexton were high.

In just his third game in an Alabama uniform, he hit 10 three-pointers to break the Alabama single-game record. Fans got to see the range that Head Coach Avery Johnson recruited him for.

“He’s a shooter,” Guard Dazon Ingram said. “If he’s open, he’s going to take the shot, and if they’re late contesting, he’s going to take the shot, too.”

Petty has not been able to keep that shooting consistent throughout the season, however. He can disappear at times. In many late-game situations, he’s spent time on the bench as Johnson finds the right lineup to secure a win. One of those times was Alabama’s win over No. 12 Oklahoma. He only played 19 minutes – the least of his career.

In the beginning, Petty’s body language on the bench indicated that he was not pleased with being on the bench. Now, he has embraced his role in the team.

“I’m always a team player,” Petty said. “The guys he had on the court, they were going good, and it just wasn’t my night at the end. I’m going to cheer them on just as well as they cheer me on when they’re on the bench.”

Johnson knew it would take some time for Petty to adjust to the college game. He has been proud of Petty’s maturation.

“Whatever minutes he plays, whether it’s 24 and he’s hot from 3 or he’s not hot from 3,” Johnson said Tuesday. “He’s matured a lot. It’s all about the team.”

Right now, Petty is another slump. After hitting three crucial three-pointers in the win against Oklahoma, he has just one point in Alabama’s last two games.

Petty might want to step up his performance if he wants to avoid catching Johnson’s wrath. One of Petty’s growing pains was getting used to his head coach showing his angry side.

“At first it was terrifying, but now I’m used to it,” Petty said. “It’s a bunch of yelling, mostly teaching. He tells us not to look at what he’s saying, just look at the point he’s trying to get across. That’s what I’ve got to take into heed. Just think about the words he’s saying, not how he’s saying it.”

Johnson still knows Petty’s potential. His range gives Alabama an edge that it has not had in a long time. In big games, Petty seems to shine. All he needs is one or two three-pointers to get himself on a roll.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports