Alabama improved to 11-3 overall, while the Aggies fell to 9-4.
A&M back-up Peyton Allen as the only Texas A&M player in double figures, scoring 13.
Although Riley Norris didn’t have a big stats line with 5 points, 3 rebounds, a steal and an assist, his 17 minutes of play were high-energy minutes for Bama as he consistently got loose balls and got the Bama offense on the attack.
Alabama hit 21-47 field goals for 44.7 per cent shooting while holding A&M to 16-52 for 30.8 per cent. Neither team was much on three-pointers, Alabama 5-23 for 21.7 per cent and A&M 6-22 for 27.3 per cent. A big difference was Bama hitting 18-25 free shots, 72 per cent, and the Aggies only 6-7, 85.7 per cent.
Alabama had a 36-33 advantage in rebounding, outscored A&M 28-18 in the paint, 12-5 on second chance points, 6-2 on fast break points, and 14-8 off turnovers. The Aggies were guilty of 14 turnovers, Bama only 8. The Tide had 8 steals, A&M only 1.
Texas A&M opened the second half with a three-point shot to tie the game at 27-27. From that point on it was all Alabama. The Tide scored the next nine points of the second half and would eventually have a 23-point lead on a spectacular exclamation mark end for the starters. On a fast break, Ricky Tarrant put the ball off the top of the glass for a trailing Levi Randolph, who slammed it down.
Bama’s lead was only seven points, 42-35, with under 10 minutes to play when Retin Obasohan drove the lane, scored, was fouled, and made the free shot for a 10-point lead. Seconds later, Obasohan repeated the move, making the driving shot, but missing the free throw. Still the lead was 10. Alabama had eased out to a 14-point lead and Obasohan drilled a three-pointer to make it a 53-36 advantage with under five minutes to play and Bama cruised home with the victory.
Alabama’s 27-24 halftime lead was disappointing in that the Tide had as much as a 13-point advantage with just four minutes to play. Texas A&M scored eight straight points to close the gap to 25-20 as Bama would score only two free throws in those last four minutes.
The Aggies pulled to within three points at halftime with a length-of-court dribble and score by Alex Robinson that was probably a little late, but counted by the officials.
Alabama opened the game with a nice jumper by Michael Kessens and A&M never led, although the Aggies did tie the score at 2-2 and 4-4.
The Tide led 11-10 with just under 11 minutes to play when Riley Norris entered the game and drilled a three-pointer that started Bama on a 10-0 run, capped by Ricky Tarrant’s trey to make it 21-10 with seven minutes to play. Three minutes later Levi Randolph’s jumper gave the Tide its biggest lead at 25-12.
The Aggies scored the next eight points and closed out the half out-scoring Alabama, 12-2.
Texas A&M was without its top performer this year. Jalen Jones, a 6-7 forward, was out with a reported ankle sprain. He leads the Aggies in scoring (13.3 ppg), rebounding (6.0 rpg), and blocked shots (8).
There were some familiar faces on the Texas A&M bench. An assistant coach for the Aggies is former Mississippi State Head Coach Rick Stansbury. And strength coach for A&M is former Bama basketball player Darby Rich.
Alabama improved its all-time record against A&M to 8-4.
In addition to opening SEC play, Bama and the Aggies will meet on the final day of conference play on March 7 in College Station.
Alabama continued undefeated, 10-0, in Coleman Coliseum this season.