One night after the thrills and chills of the Alabama football victory, the Crimson Tide basketball team reverted to a different, but effective, formula of “ground and pound.”
Alabama shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, including an 11-for-12 shooting effort by big men Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens, lifting UA to a 76-62 win over South Carolina.
“It was a better effort tonight,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “We looked like a team that had an identity tonight, a team that puts their hard hat on and doesn’t complain, just goes about their business and plays physical basketball without fouling.”
Both Hall and Giddens were in the starting lineup, a switch that Johnson said he would have made “even if we’d been playing against five 5-foot-2 guys.”
“It was about us moreso than them. I’ve been thinking a lot about our team, what we need to do and what motivates them.”
John Petty, who came off the bench with the new lineup, scored 15 points to lead Alabama. Hall added 13 points and Giddens 11. Avery Johnson Jr. added 10 points and received praise from South Carolina coach Frank Martin, who said that the younger Johnson’s “leadership” was the difference in the two teams.
The Alabama coach said he had been waiting for his son to provide veteran leadership.
“It’s taken too long,” Johnson said. “We need him to lead more and step up and stop apologizing for being the coach’s son. You are who you are. We need him to lead more.”
After back-to-back SEC losses in which the Crimson Tide trailed by double digits at halftime, UA came out with intensity, quickly building a 17-point lead (28-11) in the first 10 minutes. South Carolina knocked 10 points of the deficit before halftime, with Alabama taking a 40-33 lead at the break.
UA broke the game open with a 17-1 run midway through the second half, raising its record to 10-6, 2-2 in the SEC.
“I was disappointed in our inability to stop the bleeding in the second half,” said Martin. “That’s been our downfall all year, we let teams go on these crazy runs. We’ve got to stop that.
“We did a halfway decent job on (Collin) Sexton (who scored five points) but we didn’t guard anybody else. Our rotations were bad. They attacked our bigs and our bigs were not good today.”
Wesley Myers led South Carolina (10-5, 1-2 SEC) with 15 points.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.