Stuart McNair

Alabama downs Norfolk State, next opens SEC play at Ole Miss

Alabama men’s basketball begins Southeastern Conference play next week after getting its 15th consecutive non-conference victory in Coleman Coliseum

The names seemed to be a good omen, even though it was basketball and not football. The Alabama Crimson Tide opened the second half with a 15-5 five-minute run to break open a close game and cruise to a 68-49 win over the Norfolk State Spartans in Coleman Coliseum Saturday afternoon.


Alabama improved to 9-3, while Norfolk State fell to 5-10.


The Norfolk State game completed non-con ference action for Alabama. The Crimson Tide opens Southeastern Conference play at 8 p.m. CST Thursday at Ole Miss. ESPNU will televise the game. Alabama will be opening up the Rebels’ new arena, The Pavilion at Old Miss. Bama’s first home SEC game will be hosting Kentucky Saturday, Jan. 9, at 5 p.m. CST, with the sold-out game being televised by the SEC Network.


Although Bama had only a five-point halftime lead, Alabama led by 26 at 64-38 with five-and-a-half minutes to play. The Spartans scored the first four points of the game, and that was the biggest Norfolk State lead. Bama went ahead for good at 9-8.


Retin Obasohan led the Tide with 23 points, while Arthur Edwards had 15, and Riley Norris came off the bench to score 10. Jeff Short had 16 for Norfolk State.


Michael Kessens had 9 rebounds, Norris 8, and Jimmie Taylor 7 as Bama had a 36-29 advantage on the boards. The Tide had an advantage of 18-12 on points in the paint, 11-8 on points off turnovers, 11-6 on second chance points, and 4-0 on fast breaks.


Alabama shot only 45.8 per cent from the fi,eld (22-48), but made 11-24 three-point shots (also 45.8 per cent) and 13-17 free throws (76.5 per cent. The Spartans were only 19-54 from the field (35.2 per cent) and 6-22 on three-point tries (27.3 per cent) and made 5-8 free throws (62.5 per cent).


Justin Coleman had 6 of Bama’s 13 assists and Obasohan had 4 of the Tide’s 8 steals.


Alabama had a 33-28 halftime lead, although Norfolk had more field goals. The Spartans had made 12-26, but only 2-9 on three-pointers, and 2-2 free throws. The Tide was 10-24 from the field, but that included 6-14 on three-point tries, and Bama also had made 7-9 free throws. Obasohan had 14 points at the break.


Alabama Coach Avery Johnson said, “We’re excited that we were able to finish up our non-conference schedule with a victory. We had a lot of positive performances tonight. Arthur Edwards did a good job on both ends of the floor. Retin Obasohan did a good job defensively on their best player.”


“We have a long way to go. We had 13 assists and 13 turnovers. But it was another stellar defensive peformance by our team.”


ALABAMA NOTES: Starters for Bama were point guard Justin Coleman, wing guard Retin Obasohan, small forward Arthur Edwards, power forward Michael Kessens, and center Jimmie Taylor.


Shannon Hale, Bama’s 6-8 junior forward who had missed three games with “a medical condition,” was back in action Saturday, coming off the bench.


Saturday’s game was the first ever between Alabama and Norfolk State. It was the Tide’s fifth home game of the season, against seven away from Coleman Coliseum in non-conference play. Bama’s seven true home games in Tuscaloosa (the Oregon game in Birmingham was considered a home game) is the fewest among SEC teams this year.


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Alabama has now won 15 consecutive non-conference games in Coleman, dating back to a Dec. 11, 2013, home loss to Xavier.

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