TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –After a hard fought loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs last Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide hosted the 1-10 Jackson State Tigers on Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum.
Following an extremely tough stretch on the pre-conference play schedule, the Tide looked to pick up another win before conference play starts.
The team came out sputtering offensively, lacking any rhythm, as Jackson State—coached by legendary Alabama point guard Mo Williams—made it difficult for Bama by cutting off passing lanes and running them off the three point line.
It took almost the entire first half to begin playing clean basketball, as turnovers continued to plague the young team throughout the half, but they were eventually able to pull away a bit, taking a 31-21 lead late in the half.
However, the Tide turned the ball over four times in their last six possessions and the Tigers were able to take advantage by going on an 11-2 run in the final two minutes of the half.
Even with the rough shooting start for Alabama (38% from the field and 21% from deep in the half) 13 turnovers in the half was the primary reason Jackson State was still in the game after the first 20 minutes, as self-inflicted wounds continued to be the main issue for the Tide.
The second half started with a clear emphasis on cleaning up turnovers and continuing the half court defensive effort because the Tigers were capitalizing off of the sloppiness that the Tide played with in the first half. Coach Oats was not pleased with the way his team came out.
“I don’t wanna say our guys overlooked it, but I thought our energy was a lot better in the second half than it was at the beginning of the game,” he said.
Senior forward Noah Gurley got the scoring going for the Tide in the second 20, with 10 points in the first 10 minutes to give the home team a little bit of cushion.
However, Jackson State was able to hang around thanks to efficient shooting of the sophomore guard Ken Evans Jr. as they kept the game within single digits for most of the half, despite being over 30 point underdogs.
The Tigers found themselves down just seven points with under six minutes left in the game, but the Tide’s second leading scorer in Junior guard Mark Sears ripped off seven straight for the Tide to expand the lead back up to double digits with 3:25 to go in the half.
An emphatic slam by freshman sensation Brandon Miller made the score 74-62, and the Tide continued to pour it on from there—as the Tide rolled to an 84-64 win to make their record 10-2 going into conference play.
The 10 wins marks the programs most for pre conference play since 2014, and considering having a consensus top 7 strength of schedule in that period, it is no doubt a very strong start for the team in 2022.
“We’re young. We’ve got the ability to play with anybody in the country. We’ve got a lot of growth yet to do,” Oats said about the team’s pre-conference start.
The team will get an eight day break for the Christmas holiday before they kick off conference play in Starkville to take on the 11-1 Mississippi State Bulldogs.