Stuart McNair

Alabama basketball takes down Upstate, 78-61

Alabama looks crisp in cruising past South Carolina-Upstate

A team looking to break a two-game losing streak would do well to look upstate – to South Carolina-Upstate, that is.

Alabama returned home to Coleman Coliseum Thursday night, played well, and  cruised to a 78-61 win over the Spartans.

The Tide of Coach Avery Johnson had suffered losses at Texas and Oregon (around final examinations) and returned home to a sparse crowd with few students in town, but put on a nice performance in running its record to 5-4.

South Carolina-Upstate fell to 7-6.

Alabama returns to action Sunday at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham against Clemson. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. CST. ESPNU will televise the game.

Alabama’s offense worked smoothly, while the Crimson Tide defense had mainly to flail at Upstate three-point attempts.

Working with a 13-point lead to start the second half, the Tide increased it by 10 in the second half, building the margin to as many as 23 points on several occasions.

Alabama was led by center Donta Hall, who made 6-7 from the field for 15 points and had 8 rebounds and a blocked shot.

Braxton Key had 10 points and 5 assists and Corban Collins 10 points. Bola Olaniyan led the Tide in rebounding with 10 in the 16 minutes he played before fouling out. Dazon Ingram had 4 assists.

After shooting nearly 60 per cent in the first, half the Tide finished with 31-58 from the field for 53.4 per cent. Bama was 6-20 (30 per cent) on three-point shots and 10-18 (55.6 per cent) on free throws. South Carolina-Upstate hit 21-61 from the field for 34.4 per cent. The Spartans threw up 33 three-pointers. If they had made them all that would have been good for 99 points and a sure victory, but they made 10 of them for 30.3 per cent Upstate made 9-16 free throws.

Alabama had a 44-33 advantage on the boards, despite trouble with 7-foot, 285-pound Upstate center Michael Buchanan, who had 6 offenive rebounds among his 9. The Spartans had four men in double figures in scoring – Malik Moore with 14, Mike Cunni,ngham with 13, and Buchanan and Phillip Whittington with 10 each.

Alabama did a good job of working the ball inside and outscored Upstate by 48-20 in the paint. The Tide also had the advantage on second chance points (16-9), points off turnovers (17-6), and fast break points (12-0). As usual, Alabama also had an advantage in bench scoring, 32-21.

Alabama’s 39-26 first half lead was built with a pair of runs around a rough patch. The Spartans took an early 5-2 lead, but over the next three-and-a-half minutes Bama was able to work the ball for good shots and ran off 12 straight points to take a 14-5 lead.

Upstate slowly worked it back down until with just over eight minutes to play the Tide’s lead had been cut to only one point at 20-19.

A Donta Hall slam seemed to get the Bama offense back in gear, but meanwhile the Tide was having trouble with 7-0, 285-pound Spartans center Michael Buchanan. Fortunately for Alabama, Buchanan got in foul trouble, and the Tide took it back out. With 4:12 to play another Hall basket made it a9-point run and a 10-point lead at 29-19.

Corban Collins hit a three-pointer on a fast break, getting a nice assist from Dazon Ingram, and then Ingram made a short second-chance basket for a 15-point lead at 39-24.

Upstate cut it by 2 and the Tide was unable to get off a final first half shot, leaving it at 39-26.

Alabama had shot 58.6 per cent from the field in the first half on 17-29 field goals. The Spartans connected on only 8-30 (26.7 per cent), but five of those eight were three-pointers.

TIDE NOTES – Alabama’s starting lineup was Donta Hall at center, guards Dazon Ingram and Corban Collins, and forwards Braxton Key and Bola Olanoyan, the same lineup that was first used at Oregon Sunday.

Key, a freshman who suffered a broken nose in preseason workouts, played his first game without his protective mask.

The game was the first ever between Alabama and South Carolina Upstate.


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