TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Aaron Estrada scored his 1,600th career point and Mark Sears hit the 1,5000 career point mark as Alabama took care of business in an 89-65 win over Arkansas State.
It was a first half layup that got Sears the milestone, and for the senior from Muscle Scholes, it means a lot.
“It’s a blessing…” Sears said, “Especially being able to do it in my home state, that means a lot,” he added.
Estrada got his 1,600 career point later on in the first half, and the Hofstra transfer was big tonight for the Crimson Tide despite not having the best shooting night. He grabbed six rebounds and got two assists in 27 minutes.
The game itself turned into a dominate win for the Crimson Tide, and it was a total team effort to get there in the end. Five players scored in double figures, with Sears and Jarin Stevenson leading the way with 13 points. Mohamed Wague and Grant Nelson had 12 points, and Estrada had 11 to round out the group.
“Wague led us in blue collar points. He had five offensive rebounds…I was happy with him.” Head Coach Nate Oats said.
“Jarin gave us some good minutes. I thought he scored well.” Oats added.
Alabama came into this game wanting to find their footing defensively, and it was a solid effort on that end of the court. Arkansas State shot just 34 percent from the field, and were just 20 percent from three. A lot of that was due to the Crimson Tide’s ability to force ball movement, and the Red Wolves could not get as many good looks as they wanted.
Alabama got 10 steals during the game, and it lead to multiple transition buckets and a total of 27 points off turnovers. That’s a staple of what the team wants to do, and the buy-in on defense tonight got it.
“I think we’re making improvements on that side of the ball,” Oats said.
The game was also a reunion of sorts, with Arkansas State Head Coach Bryan Hodgson returning to Tuscaloosa for the first time since he left Alabama as an assistant.
“I know Coach Oats…I know he’s normally trying to schedule the toughest schedule he can…” Hodgson said, “For him to schedule me year one means a lot,” he added.
Arkansas State came into this game with only eight scholarship players available, and with Alabama’s pace of play, the Tide were able to just outmatch the Red Wolves.
Not all news was good however, as Grant Nelson went down with a left leg injury in the second half. Nate Oats said it was nothing serious, and the treatment was done because of how the score was when Nelson left.
Now Alabama turns its attention to the biggest three game stretch the program has had in a while. Purdue, Arizona, and Creighton all await the Crimson Tide over the course of the next few weeks. With none of the games being in Tuscaloosa, Nate Oats knows how big it is for the team to play well.
“We’re going to need our whole front line ready for Zach Edey,” Oats said.
Oats did say Nick Pringle will return against Purdue after being suspended for this game. That should add some interior protection that Alabama will definitely need.
“He’s a great kid, great energy about him, just needed to clean some things up.” Oats added about Pringle.
With this win in the books, Alabama moves to 6-2 on the season, and with the matchup against some of the nation’s best, every win matters a whole lot more.