TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Despite a rough performance from deep, Alabama’s newcomers led them to a victory over Southern Illinois 73-64 in a charity exhibition.
New Faces Dominate in the Paint
The Crimson Tide were forced into relying on their reloaded roster, and they didn’t disappoint. Especially when it came to scoring inside.
Alabama returned just five players from last season’s roster. One of them, Nimari Burnett, missed the entire season last year with a knee injury. On top of that, veterans Jaden Quinerly (ACL), Charles Bediako (Unknown) and Darius Miles (Foot) all were unavailable for the exhibition.
Despite the injuries, the Tide were able to put together a solid performance that saw every player score.
Brandon Miller led the way for Alabama with 14 points. Although he struggled with his shot (5-13), Miller showed incredible touch around the rim as he finished through contact in the paint.
Speaking of touch around the rim, Mark Sears proved why he was one of the most sought-after transfers in the country this past offseason. Sears had 13 points, with 10 of them coming in the paint.
Although it might not seem like it according to his stats, Sears was the floor general for Alabama in the game. Despite having just two assists, his drives to the hoop often cleared the path for another Tide player to capitalize.
And capitalize did they ever. Noah Gurley had 12 points while Nick Pringle had 10.
Overall, Alabama finished the game with 44 points in the paint and 18 coming at the free-throw line.
One of the priorities in recruiting this offseason was fixing the shooting issues that plagued Alabama last season. It doesn’t seem, at least yet, that the problem was fixed.
The Crimson Tide made just three shots from deep over the course of the game.
Yes, you read that correctly. 13.6% from deep.
Across the board, they just weren’t going down for Alabama. The only upside in that department was with freshman Rylan Griffen, who cashed in twice for the Tide from deep.
Oats’ message after the game? They didn’t shoot enough.
“I thought we were passing up some threes we should’ve taken,” Oats said.
“We’ve just gotta step in and shoot the ball. I’m not overly critical on shot selection with threes. If you’re open and you’re a shooter, shoot it.”
Oats believes that better days are ahead as far as shooting is concerned.
“I think we’ll get better and be an even better shooting team than we were last year. Today wasn’t one of those days.”
Despite missing their leading rebounder in Bediako, Alabama was seemingly too much for Southern Illinois to handle on the boards.
The Tide won the rebounding battle 46-29, with 19 offensive rebounds.
Pringle and Noah Clowney both contributed eight boards for Alabama, while Miller and Gurley each added six more.
Alabama will open the regular season at home against Longwood. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
Follow Nicholas Pursley on Twitter @nicholaspursley.