Perhaps it was the adjustment to playing with five players again.
Whatever the reason, the No. 24 University of Alabama men’s basketball team spent most of the first 30 minutes out of sync. Dazon Ingram and Collin Sexton pulled the Crimson Tide’s fat out of the fire down the stretch, scoring 22 points each as UA held off a previously unbeaten Louisiana Tech team 77-74 at Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Alabama was down by as many as 11 points in the second half and still trailed by one point when the Bulldogs’ Jalen Harris hit a layup with 1:30 to play. But Riley Norris put back a Sexton miss to put Alabama up 71-70 with 1:15 to go and Alabama made its final six free throws to hold on.
Harris had a chance at a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer but came up just short.
“It was a terrific second half,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “Our effort was tremendous, starting with Dazon. We took him aside a couple of days ago and talked to him about being a leader.”
Ingram’s 22 points tied his career high.
In addition to the 22-point efforts by Sexton and Ingram, UA got a strong 15-point, seven-rebound, four-block performance from junior Donta Hall.
Johnson had spoken at his Tuesday press conference about the recurring problem of slow starts by this Alabama team and the issue continued against Louisiana Tech as Alabama trailed by as many as 11 points in the half.
“I just know as a veteran that when the game is getting out of hand, it’s time to crank up to that next level,” Ingram said.
“I thought we defended for the most part but give them credit,” Louisiana Tech Eric Konkol said. “Sexton and Ingram are so hard to keep in front of you. We made things difficult for (Sexton) and if you had told me we would hold him to six for 19 (from the floor), I’d have felt pretty good. But he’s relentless. It seems like he never runs out of energy.”
Freshman John Petty played just 19 minutes after coming back from an ankle injury. Johnson said that was a coach’s decision as the Crimson Tide was “looking for a lineup.
“We found one that was working and decided to ride that for a while.”
Alabama will be back in action on Sunday, hosting Central Florida.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.