The adjective "lucky" didn't describe anyone in particular, but the noun "Lucky" stood for Lucky Williams, the 6-6 freshman who saw extensive action in the Tide's win. After being ineligible for the first 14 games of the season, Williams played only one minute in the last three games.
In the LSU game, Williams played 24 minutes, scoring six points. Already having a reputation as a solid defender, Williams said it was his defense that helped him get on the floor on Saturday. His offense, at times, didn't look too shabby either.
"I've been more aggressive on defense," Williams said. "(On offense) I'm pretty confident, I just got to fit in more."
Tide coach Mark Gottfried agreed, as he said Williams's defensive ability and toughness led to his increased minutes.
"One thing Lucky brings in there is some toughness," Gottfried said. "He can guard the player that's difficult for everyone to guard. The guy next (to the center) is always a tough matchup for us. We wanted to give him a chance to guard Dupree and I thought he played great. We always tell our players to be ready when their number is called, and he played some good minutes."
It hasn't always been easy for Williams. Last season, he was declared a "partial qualifier" by the NCAA, meaning he had to sit out all season, thus using up a season of eligibility. Later on in the year, Williams learned that an error occurred--and he was in fact eligible. But by that point in the season, it was too late to make a difference, and Williams spent the season as a redshirt.
Before the start of this season, Williams was declared ineligible once again by the NCAA--this time for 14 games--as a result of accepting improper benefits prior to enrollment at the University of Alabama.
He sat those games out, but when it finally came time for Williams to play, he still sat out. Gottfried elected not to play Williams in losses to Auburn and Ole Miss, and played Williams only one minute in the loss to Kentucky.
"(Sitting out) was pretty rough but it gave me the fire that makes me want to play more," Williams said. "It gives me more will to execute and play harder. It helps, and gives me more enthusiasm to play more aggressive."
While Williams was aggressive on the defensive end, he showed flashes on offense as well. He hit his first two shots, 15-foot jumpers, and hit two free throws. He also had an assist, but did not turn the ball over.
"I thought he played great," Gottfried said. "He really passed the ball well. He played with a lot of poise and didn't seem to get flustered or rushed."
At 6-6, Williams wouldn't appear to be a center in the high post offense, but he said he felt comfortable playing the position and taking jump shots from that area.
"That's what I do in practice all the time, take those shots," Williams said. "It did feel good though to score."
Now Williams can start to feel comfortable that he has game experience, and his coach said that his effort on Saturday earned more quality minutes. He knew that he was going to play Saturday, but he didn't know how much.
"I feel more comfortable with shooting, and playing good defense," Williams said. "Defense wins games and that's the main thing."
For now, Williams will wake up and be ready for more practices at 5:45 a.m. He's focused on team goals, but now he might reach whatever individual goals he has as well.
"It brought us together," said Williams, of early practices. "We don't have any social life. We go to practice, come back, and go to study hall and go back to sleep. It just depends on what the coach says. Whatever he says, we're going to do."