Needing a bounce back “W” after a tough Tuesday afternoon home loss to Dayton, the Alabama basketball team got just that with a 77-59 win Friday night at Coleman Coliseum. Senior Shannon Hale came off the bench to score 19 points. He was joined in double digits by Ar’Mond Davis with 17 points, while Avery Johnson, Jr. added a career-high 13 to go with six assists and five boards. Also grabbing five rebounds each were Jimmie Taylor and Dazon Ingram.
Alabama never trailed in the game.
Said Tide Coach Avery Johnson, Sr.: “We got help from all across the board. Our guys off the bench came in and gave us a lift offensively. The ball wasn’t sticking. We had two, three, and four passes on a possession while we built our lead. They’re working hard. We’ve got a good group of young men representing The University of Alabama.
“Shannon (Hale) was terrific tonight. It’s a by-product of the last two practices. He’s been arguably our best player in practice, and it carried over to the game. Between A.J., Shannon, and Ar’Mond, those guys really carried us offensively.
“A lot of things we’ve been working on, it carries on to every game, not just tonight.”
Added Hale: “I thank my teammates for getting me going, and Coach Johnson and his coaching staff for keeping confidence in me. It was a pretty good feeling. I’ve had a great four years here. It’s been a great run. It hasn’t hit me yet three games in (being a senior), but I’m sure pretty soon I’m going to start feeling some kind of way.
“I think everybody on our team can guard all five spots. We’re really special on defense.“
In the first five minutes, the two teams combined to shoot enough bricks to build that new arena Johnson wants. Riley Norris hit two from the line with 15:36 left in the half for the game’s first points. Hale then dunked and hit a 3 to jump start the Tide offense.
Hale had 13 points in his first seven minutes off the bench. The Cards seemed to have no answer for the 6-8 senior. His third 3 put Bama up 21-14 midway through the first half.
Bama was uncharacteristically hot behind the arc in the first 20 minutes, canning seven of 13 from downtown. For the game, the Tide hit 12-for-23, a sizzling 52 per cent. Last year, the Cardinals were among the nation’s top 50 behind the arc. Friday, the Tide looked like that type of team. The Cards shot but 23.5 per cent (4-17) on three-pointers.
Ball State (1-2) held serve, though, for much of a half that featured only one tie, but the Tide never trailed. At the break, Bama led, 36-26. The Cardinals had a nearly six minute drought late to enable the Tide to extend its lead. The Tide bench scored 30 of the team’s 36 first half points, led by Hale’s 13.
The second half saw Alabama outscore the visitors 41-33 and build its lead to 29 points with 9:32 to go. Bama’s bench scored 59 points – equal to Ball State’s total team output -- while the Tide starters managed but 18.
Walk-ons Lawson Schaffer and Landon Fuller saw action in the last two minutes when Johnson was able to clear the bench. Sophomore guard Brandon Austin saw his first action of the season in the second half, as well.
Alabama (2-1) next plays Valparaiso at 11 p.m. CST Monday in the first of two games in Las Vegas. The Wednesday night game will be against either BYU or Saint Louis, with tip time at either 8:30 or 11:00 p.m. CT. The tournament is called the Las Vegas Main Event, and Friday’s game was also considered part of the bracket.
Video by A.P.Steadham