Bama Hoops Hype

Rapid Recap: Alabama vs South Carolina

Photo by Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

The Tide welcomed the Gamecocks of South Carolina to Coleman Coliseum in the first of a series of home games that give Alabama an incredible opportunity to reestablish their winning ways after back to back SEC losses on the road to Vanderbilt and Georgia, the latter of which being a dismantling by the Bulldogs that demonstrated a number of deficiencies for the Tide on the offensive side of the ball.

Avery Johnson started a big line-up for the matchup to try and combat the length that the Gamecocks were bringing in.  The Tide asserted their dominance early defensively forcing multiple turnovers that lead to easy fast break points for the Tide.  The larger line-up made it harder for Avery Johnson’s men to press full court but nonetheless were able to bring their pressure in the half-court, a nice change for a team that has at times seemed very stagnant when not playing the full length of the court.

John Petty came into the game around the midway point of the first half and was immediately able to make his presence known, knocking down two quick back to back threes to stretch the Tide lead even further.

The shots continued to fall well into the first half as the Tide shot 70 percent from the field compared to the 27 percent of USC.  The Alabama defense was suffocating at times, very much improved on their perimeter defense compared to their last time out in Athens.  Nearly every South Carolina possession throughout the first half ended in a heavily contested shot from distance, resulting in their poor percentage from the field.

The Tide lead began to shrink as the first half wound to a close behind the play of sophomore guard Wesley Myers and junior forward Chris Silva. The pair combined for 18 of South Carolina’s 33 first half points as they cut the Tide lead to just seven going into the break.

 

HALFTIME: Alabama 40 South Carolina 33

 

 Alabama’s defense remained stout to begin the second half while their offense was able to score the ball effectively thanks to quality movement off the ball.  The ability of the Tide to consistently score the ball allowed them to quickly open their lead back up to double digits early on in the second half.

The Tide found themselves running away with it midway through the second half as magnificent play from Sexton and Petty found the Tide scoring at will in transition. The Alabama defense was locked in tonight, forcing 13 turnovers and managing 8 steals on the night.

Donta Hall was a dominant force in the paint, finishing the night with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks.  Hall led the way on the defensive side of the floor for a Tide team that kept the Gamecocks to just 62 points on 35 percent shooting while staying out of foul trouble – all positive signs for a team that has desperately struggled in this area throughout the season.

The story of the night was Alabama’s ability to create wide open shooting opportunities while limiting the open looks South Carolina was able to create.  Hall and Gidden’s presence in the paint shut down the bigs for USC and allowed the Tide guards to stay on the perimeter where they could alter the perimeter shots.  If Alabama can consistently establish their post presence early in ball games like they demonstrated tonight, their defense will be able to keep them in most ball games. This has been what’s missing in far too many of Alabama’s games against quality opponents like Arizona and Minnesota.

The Tide showed no resemblance to the team that showed up in Athens Saturday afternoon. It looks like Avery Johnson has made the necessary adjustments in his defense on the perimeter and the team were able to knock their shots down once again, showing that on their day, this team can look near unbeatable.

The Tide cruised in this one thanks to consistent ball movement and a commitment to protecting the paint and contesting all shots from the perimeter.

 

FINAL: Alabama 76 South Carolina 62

 

Johnathan Anderson covers Alabama Basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can connect with him on Twitter.

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