Fine Shooting Gets Tide Over Eagles

Alabama wasn’t going to keep up its torrid early game scoring pace – the Crimson Tide made its first nine shots – but Levi Randolph was hot in the first half and Ricky Tarrant in the second half as Bama rolled to an 81-67 win over Southern Miss in Coleman Coliseum Thursday night.

Alabama improved to 3-0 as Bama hit the 80-point mark for the third consecutive game. Southern Mississippi fell to 2-1.

Alabama goes to Kansas City next week to complete the CBE Classic. The first two games in the tournament – wins over Towson (82-54) and Western Carolina (80-74) were played in Tuscaloosa. On Monday the Tide will play Iowa State at 8:30 p.m. CST with television on ESPN2. On Tuesday Bama will play either Maryland or Arizona State.

Levi Randolph hit for 23 points – 18 of them in the first half – and Ricky Tarrant contributed 18 – 15 in the second half – as the Crimson Tide led wire-to-wire.

Randolph hit 8-12 field goals, including 3-4 treys, and all four of his free throws for his 23 points and also had 7 rebounds. Tarrant hit 6-8 from the field, including 3-4 on both three-pointers and foul shots, for his 18 points and he also had three steals. Shannon Hale had a double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Southern Miss was led by Matt Bingaya with 19 points and Norville Carey with 17.

Alabama shot very well from the field, 28-49, for 57.1 per cent, including 9-19 on three-pointers, 47.4 per cent and 16-21 on free throws, 76.2 per cent. Southrn Miss made 22-53 for 41.5 per cent, 8-29 on treys (but only 2-13 in the second half) for 27.6 per cent, and 15-23 on free throws, 65.2 per cent.

Alabama had a 36-22 advantage on rebounds, the Tide getting 28 defensive boards.

Bama outscored the Eagles 26-20 in the paint, 18-12 off turnovers, 11-5 on second chance points, and 6-2 on fast breaks.

In the second half Southern Miss never got closer than the eight point deficit of the first half, 38-30. Bama opened a brief 18-point lead at 53-35 early in the second half and held a comfortable lead until the Golden Eagles cut it to 11 at 63-52. Randolph put back a miss and then Tarrant had back-to-back scoring plays, a length-of-court drive and layup and a three-pointer to push the lead back to 70-52. Late in the game a Shannon Hale gave Alabama a 19-point lead at 77-58.

Alabama made its first nine shots of the game with Randolph making five of five including two three-pointers, but Bama couldn’t get much separation from the Golden Eagles, who were fast-firing, mostly from three-point range and making enough of them (6-16) to keep the pressure on. Justin Coleman, Jimmie Taylor, Michael Kessens, and Ricky also made field goals in the Tide’s 9-9 start. The first miss came by Riley Norris with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half.

Randolph, who had 18 first half points (6-7, 3-3 on treys, 3-3 free throws), opened the game with a trey and a two-point jumper for a 5-0 Bama lead and Southern Miss never was tied or in the lead. Bama had an 11-point lead at 36-25, but USM cut it to 36-30 before Shannon Hale ended first half scoring at 38-30 with a pair of free throws.

Alabama had made 5-12 three-pointers – the Tide was only 2-17 in its last outing against Western Carolina – and shot 59.1 per cent from the field (13-22) in the first half.

TIDE NOTES – Starters for Alabama were freshman point guard Justin Coleman, senior guards Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper, sophomore forward Shannon Hale, and sophomore center Jimmie Taylor.

Jeff Garrett, a 6-7, 206-pound freshman forward from Gadsden, will redshirt this year in order to help him develop, Tide Coach Anthony Grant announced in a written release prior to the game. Garrett played his senior prep season at Oldsmar Christion in Tampa where he averaged 18.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocked shots per game and helped his team to a 25-10 record.

Southern Miss has two Alabamians on its roster, including one from Tuscaloosa. The Golden Eagles include freshman guard Kevin Holland of Tuscaloosa Paul W. Bryant High and junior guard Jamie Chapman of St. Paul’s Episcopal in Mobile.

After going to Kansas City next week, the Tide’s next home game will be Tuesday, Dec. 2, against South Florida.

Alabama now has a 21-5 record against Southern Miss, including five Bama wins in a row. The last win for the Golden Eagles came in 1993.

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