Tide Impressive In 65-44 Win Over A&M

Retin Obasohan and Riley Norris gave Alabama a spark off the bench and Ricky Tarrant led four Crimson Tide players in double figures scoring as Bama opened Southeastern Conference play with perhaps its best game of the season in downing Texas A&M, 65-44.

In the second half, Alabama shot 52 per cent in the field while holding Texas A&M to only 23.1 per cent shooting as the Tide outscored the Aggies 38-20 in the final 20 minutes.

Alabama improved to 11-3 overall, while the Aggies fell to 9-4.

Alabama ended a five-game home stand against Texas A&M and now goes on the road to play Tennessee in Knoxville Saturday. Bama’s next home game will be Jan. 17 when the Crimson Tide hosts Kentucky.

Ricky Tarrant led the Bama scoring with 15 points, including 6-8 free throws. Retin Obasohan had 12 points off the bench. Michael Kessens and Levi Randolph both had 10 points and nine rebounds.

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).

TIDE NOTES: Starters for Alabama were point guard Ricky Tarrant, forward Michael Kessens, center Jimmie Taylor, guard Levi Randolph, and wing Rodney Cooper.

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.

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