Tide Discipline Leads To Win

Alabama's basketball game last Saturday against fifth-ranked Purdue was big. Most would not consider Wednesday night's game against Samford to be important. The Crimson Tide probably grew up in the loss to Purdue. And Bama appeared to gain something with its 60-45 win over the Bulldogs from Birmingham.

"If you are looking for a key, our guys were disciplined," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant following the game. He said discipline and patience were necessary to play against the offensive style of Samford.

Mikhail Torrance scored eight straight points midway through the first half that was part of a 15-3 run by the Crimson Tide and took Bama from behind to a nine-point lead. Bama opened up a 35-24 lead at halftime and the Bulldogs never got closer than 10 in the second half. Alabama led by as many as 20.

Alabama improved to 7-3, while Samford fell to 3-7 and remained winless on the road.

Alabama goes to Mobile for a doubleheader Saturday, a game that will pit longtime friends Grant and Kansas State Coach Frank Martin against one another in South Alabama's Coors Classic. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CST. Kansas State is 9-1 and ranked 17th in the nation.

"Frank and I were high school teammates at Miami Senior High," Grant said. "We coached together in high school for five years, and we've been friends since we were about 14 or 15 years old.  I'm very proud of him and what he's been able to accomplish at Kansas State throughout his career.  Obviously he's got his ball club playing extremely well right now."

Torrance was Alabama's leading scorer with 15 points, all of those coming in the first half. JaMychal Green had 14 points, only four in the second half.

But on defense, Alabama held Samford scoreless for a nearly five-minute stretch and for the game forced 20 turnovers and limited the Bulldogs to only 41 field goal opportunities, 21 of them three-point efforts. Alabama had 13 steals, its second most of the season and scored 16 points off turnovers.

"I thought our guys did a very good job defensively and that was our focus," Grant said. "We knew coming in, with the way they run their offense, that it was going to be important to guard the three-point line.  That was our emphasis early.  We gave up some back-door plays to start the game, but I think our guys settled in well and we took that away.  Foremost, I think we did a good job of taking away the three-point line.

"We had to play to our style.  We couldn't let them control the tempo of the game.  We've talked about that the last couple of days in practice, and I thought our guys, for 40 minutes tonight, tried to do that.  We tried to impose our will and I thought we were effective from a defensive standpoint."  

Samford's plan seemed to be to pack the middle with its 2-3 match-up zone on defense and to run the clock on offense. Samford's average scoring possession lasted 24 seconds, nine seconds longer than the Tide's. The Bulldogs had zero fast break points, while Bama had 10.

Alabama committed just 12 turnovers, however, eight of them came from Mikhail Torrance to temper his seven assists. The Crimson Tide shot 48.1 percent from the field and 61.3 percent from inside the arc.

The contest only saw six total free throws attempted with Samford only earning one attempt with 2:09 left in the contest. Alabama made four of its five attempts, all of them in the first half.

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