Although the season opener had enough fouls for the opening month, the University of Alabama men’s basketball team managed to wade through the bodies well enough to take an 82-62 win against Southern University in the initial game of 2018-19 for both teams.
There were 52 total fouls called (28 on the Jaguars) and the two teams combined for 35 turnovers in the whistlefest. As a result, neither team established a rhythm but Alabama had a reasonable amount of veteran play from Donta Hall, who tied a career high with 20 points, going 8 of 9 from the floor, and John Petty, whose 17-point effort included five 3-pointers.
“I’ve always been able to shoot, I just brought it out tonight,” joked Hall, when asked about a couple of mid-range jumpers he added to his usual repertoire of tip-ins and dunks.
Kira Lewis, the touted early-entry point guard from Hazel Green High School, got a start in his first career game (replacing the injured Dazon Ingram) and was solid in 29 minutes, scoring six points and handing out seven assists.
The game was close for the first 13 minutes but a 10-0 run by Alabama late in the first half helped UA to a 45-27 halftime edge, which reached as many as 27 points with six minutes to play.
“We finished the first half strong once we got the ball moving,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “We dominated the backboards. We are still turning the ball over too much but I was pleased with our effort.”
Johnson said the decision to start Lewis came Monday and the freshman responded well.
“We didn’t plan on Dazon being out, but he wasn’t able to practice and you know me, if you can’t practice, you can’t play.
“Kira is still learning but you can see some amazing talent sometimes. He is different than (Collin) was last year. Kira is an excellent shooter. He plays from the 3-point line in, where Sexton played from the basket out.”
Sophomore Herb Jones added eight points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Eddie Reese scored 16 points to lead Southern (0-1).
Alabama will be back in action on Sunday, hosting Appalachian State.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.