Thursday, January 17, 2013
Bama shoots lights out, Beats Bulldogs 75-43
The game started five minutes late due to a power outage at the arena. In fairness, electricity is still a fairly new concept in that part of the world. I didn't mind the delay, as it gave us a few extra minutes to make the long hike from our parking place to the arena in time for tip off.
Early in the game we looked like a team that was missing our starting point guard. We were indecisive on offense, again passing up open shots only to force something at the end of the shot clock on several occasions. We had a number of miscommunications that led to turnovers. We only had 2 points in the first five minutes, but thankfully we played good defense and only trailed 5-2. It looked like State would be the hot team early in the game with 2 quick 3 pointers to take a 10-6 lead. It was an ugly game that went back and forth for much of the first half, then we suddenly settled down, started taking care of the basketball, and making open shots. Rodney Cooper stepped up again and his mid range game is really helping us. We went on a run at the end of the half to take a 30-22 lead into the locker room.
Without Releford, I think Lacey was not looking to score enough in the first half and there were some chemistry issues, as the team adjusted to having someone else run the point. At halftime, you had to feel pretty good to be up 8 despite not playing very sound and Lacey not scoring. We were dominating in the paint, which was an encouraging sign that continued all night.
The second half was probably the most fun I have had watching Alabama basketball in a long time. We started out with 5 straight 3's and at one point were on a 27-3 run. State used 2 timeouts during the stretch but could do nothing to stop our momentum. This team won't shoot like this every night, obviously, but I think many of us probably questioned over the last couple of years if we were even CAPABLE of shooting 61% from downtown in a game, even if left largely unguarded. It's good to know they have it in them.
It's rare that we win the battle in the post these days. Last night, Nick Jacobs was everything we hoped he could be, and more. He had a career high, double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. We outscored them in the paint, 38-18. Second chance points favored Bama 13-2. We out rebounded them 35-23, 13-8 on the offensive end. This opened things up for Lacey, Levi, and Coop to knock down the aforementioned 3's.
As good as the offense was, the defense was even better. We pressed most of the game, which concerned me given our lack of depth at the moment. It was just too effective to go away from it, as State had no answers. They turned it over 21 times leading to 25 Tide points. We dominated every facet of the game. Major kudos to Coach Grant and team for overcoming adversity and getting the job done in convincing fashion.
This was a special win for me, as I have a long history of bad experiences and bad luck in Starkville. It was great to finally get a win. Even though we were clearly the better team, I did not feel too comfortable until we pushed the lead to 30. I decided to look up the scores to other games I have attended there, and you will see why:
2000: L 70-92. (This was my first trip to the dump. I was amazed at how obnoxious their fans were. They taunted our section of Bama fans the entire game. One of my friends sitting a few rows in front of me threw a cup, and the guy sitting next to him got arrested.)
2001: L 70-84
2002: L 62-76
2003: L 55-59 (I sat on the floor for this game, Some 60ish year old woman got into my gf's face and tried to start a fight)
(Note: At the last minute I decided to forego the 2004 game, and instead watched it a bar on Bourbon Street during Mardi gras, of course we pulled the upset).
2007: L 67-91 (This is one of only 2 games I have ever left early)
2008: L 66-73
2010: L 66-74
2012: L 52-56
With Releford out and a long drive on a cold, rainy night looming, I was sort of dreading this game all day. Now, I'm really glad I went. Their crowd was as subdued as I have ever seen them. They were not loud at all and there was no electricity in the gym (literally and figuratively) even before and early in the game. Their fans were nicer than usual, with the exception of two females (notice I did not call them Ladies or women, as that would be disrespectful to the fairer gender) sitting directly behind us. Judging by their looks, vernacular, and grammar; I would say they combined for approximately 540 lbs and maybe a 7th grade education level, at best. I will give them credit for sticking around long enough to hear the five of us in my immediate area sing Rammer Jammer (which they didn't seem to appreciate), long after most had left. There was only about 6,000 people there to begin with, and they started leaving at the first media timeout in the second half. By the ten minute mark, that gym was a ghost town. I was a little disappointed that we probably only had about 50 or so Alabama fans there.
Up next, we return home for a very tough but winnable game against SEC newcomers Texas A&M Saturday night at 5pm. Yes, they do have a "Johnny basketball" his name is Elston Turner. We need to contain him. The football BCS parade and celebration is scheduled to start at 1:30. If you know of anybody going, try to talk them into staying for the basketball game. This is a huge game and we will need a packed house. I'm a little disappointed, but not surprised, that the athletic department is not marketing this game as part of the BCS celebration.