The curtain officially opened on the Collin Sexton Show on Tuesday night, although Alabama basketball coach Avery Johnson wanted to make sure that no one forgot about the co-stars.
Sexton, the Crimson Tide’s highly touted freshman guard, scored 22 points and had five assists in the Crimson Tide home opener, an 86-64 victory over Lipscomb, delivering on much of the anticipated flash and flair.
“I think he’s been a champ in terms of his courage, his character and mainly his commitment to the program,” Johnson said of Sexton, who missed last week’s season opener against Memphis as part of a one-game suspension. “You learn so much about a person during adversity. He and I and the rest of his teammates, we sincerely love him.”
Johnson also praised Sexton’s animation and confidence but was quick to add that “everybody (on the team) this year, including Lawson Schaffer, we’re confident in putting on the floor.”
UA certainly displayed more scoring firepower than in recent seasons. In addition to the 22 points from Sexton (who was not available for post-game interviews), Alabama got 14 points from fellow freshman John Petty, 13 from Dazon Ingram (who added seven points and five assists) and 10 from center Donta Hall. UA shot a blistering 59.6 percent from the floor.
If there were areas of concern, they were offensive rebounding (UA had five) and foul shooting (UA was an abysmal 12-of-32 from the line.)
“We shoot almost 1,000 free throws a day in practice,” Petty said. “We can make them. It was just one of those days. It won’t happen again.”
Thanks in part to its dyspeptic foul line performance, Alabama couldn’t hold the double-digit lead it assembled in the first half. Lipscomb came as close as one point in the second half, coming within 43-42 on Michael Buckland’s layup with 16:10 to go.
From that point, though, Alabama was able to steadily pull away, outscoring Lipscomb 43-22 over the rest of the game.
“I thought they took us out of everything we like to do offensively,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. “We are usually a good offensive team. Their pressure affected us, and I thought our guys sort of lost it in the moment.”
Rob Marberry and Garrison Matthews led Lipscomb (2-1) with 15 points each.
Alabama will be back in action in Friday night, hosting Alabama A&M in a game where Johnson is looking for additional improvement.
“We have to earn it,” he said. “There’s nobody going to walk down like we’ve got five angels on the floor and they’re going to pass out. That’s not going to happen.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225