By Stan J. Griffin: November 11, 2016
Avery Johnson's University of Alabama men's basketball team and Kristy Curry's Crimson Tide women's team opened the 2016-17 season with big victories on Friday in front of raucous crowds at Coleman Coliseum.
Johnson's team used a second-half surge to propel it past Cliff Ellis's Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 70-53 while Curry's squad had little difficulty in romping past the New Orleans Privateers 78-57.
The following are recaps of both Crimson Tide basketball victories Friday:
ALABAMA 70, COASTAL CAROLINA 53:
After a first half where Johnson's team was not on all cylinders and trailed by six at halftime, a second-half offensive and defensive surge by the Tide allowed it to take a fairly comfortable lead of 52-42 with just over 10 minutes left.
But as that advantage began to dwindle, with the visiting Chanticleers trimming the lead to 52-48 with just over seven minutes left, Alabama senior guard Corban Collins, in his first official game in a Crimson Tide uniform, halted that run by the visitors in big fashion.
He nailed a huge 3-pointer to propel the Tide on its own 8-0 spurt that built the lead back to 12 at 60-48, and Alabama coasted from there, building a lead of 19 points down the stretch before settling for the 17-point triumph.
Collins led the Crimson Tide with 15 points, which included three treys and a perfect 6-of-6 night from the free throw line. He also added three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"It was kind of a tale of two halves," said Johnson. "We weren't very good in the first half and (the Chanticleers) had a lot to do with it. We were out of rhythm, we didn't rebound, and they obviously made some threes, but we changed the lineup at the start of the second half and put (graduate transfer) Bola (Olaniyan) in at four. We thought that gave us some more energy and brought Shannon (Hale) off the bench along with some of our other guys. It was a tale of two halves and we've got a lot of work to do, and a long way to go, but (Collins and redshirt freshman guard Dazon Ingram) they really compliment each other. They play well together, they get along well, and so I like the way both play on an off the ball. Both are terrific defenders, so we wouldn't be sitting here with a 17-point win if it wasn't for Dazon and Corban."
Ingram, who only played in seven games last season before missing the rest of the season due to injury, added 11 points, including three treys, four boards, five assists and a steal.
Alabama led 11-9 after a trey by Riley Norris, but Coastal Carolina scored the next eight points to build a 17-11 lead of its own.
At the 5:19 mark the lead was 24-16 for Ellis's team, and the closest the Tide could get the rest of the half was five points. Alabama trailed 33-27 at the intermission.
The Chanticleers hit a 3-point bomb to make the score 36-30 early in the second half, but Alabama scored 12 of the next 14 points to move in front 42-35. During this surge, the Tide turned up its defensive attack and the Chanticleers were unable to get off many quality shots.
Ellis noted after the game that Alabama's defense simply wore his team out in the second half.
Alabama's lead remained at around eight points or so, and two free throws by Hale made the score 52-42 at the 10:14 mark.
Coastal Carolina did not fold, scoring six in a row to make the score 52-48, but Collins hit the shot of the night, a trey at the 5:48 mark to make the score 55-48. This seemed to light a fire under the Tide and Alabama cruised after the Collins dagger.
Norris finished with 14 points and also made three from three-point range.
Alabama returns home on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to take on Dayton in Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 12:15 p.m. CT with the game airing on ESPN2 as a part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
ALABAMA 78, NEW ORLEANS 57 (WOMEN):
The Crimson Tide in its season-opener, making its official return to Coleman Coliseum, could not get its 3-point attack going Friday, hitting only 2 of 14 from the arc.
But one of those treys, by junior guard Hannah Cook, proved to be especially pivotal.
Alabama and New Orleans found themselves in a 17-17 deadlock after the first period of play, and with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter the Privateers were still giving Alabama all it wanted, leading 22-21 after a trey by standout shooter Randi Brown.
At the 6:56 mark, though, Cook hit the Tide's first 3-pointer of the night, and that seemed to breathe a good deal of life into a sputtering Tide team, propelling it to an 11-0 run that put UA up 32-22.
The Crimson Tide never tailed again after that, and Alabama outscored New Orleans 26-13 in that second quarter. That critical period proved to be a major difference between a Tide rout and perhaps a contest that was a bit closer.
"I thought there were three really good things that we did the second half, to be down 22 to 21 on the glass and then to out-rebound them 43 to 38, I thought we did a good job taking care of the basketball the second half, and then to have five players in double figures," said Curry. "I thought those were three categories that in the end really made a difference. It was ugly at times, but ugly counts and it was great to get those first-game jitters and the environment out of our system. It certainly was a good experience for us tonight.
"We were sputtering a little bit, but you know at the end of the day, I thought that we were rushing things a little bit and weren't settled on shots. Maybe again, that's just anxious and I didn't think that you could fault our effort as much as I was just trying to get them to slow down a little bit and let the game come to them and it was more a little bit of focus. It certainly wasn't a lack of effort."
Meo Knight led the Crimson Tide with 18 points, while Shaquera Wade added 16.
Joining Knight and Wade in double figures were freshmen Ashley Knight and Jordan Lewis with 12 points and 11 points, respectively, and junior Ashley Williams, who finished with 10. Lewis was the team’s leader in rebounds with eight to go along with four assists and four steals.
In addition to leading the team in points, Meoshonti Knight collected a game-best five steals and tied for Lewis with a game-high four assists.
Cook had seven points, along with three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
For the game, the Tide outscored New Orleans, 48-16, in the paint and 18-0 in fastbreak points. Alabama also won the battle of the boards, 43-38, and forced 22 Privateer turnovers.
Next up, the Tide hosts Mississippi Valley State on Monday, Nov. 14.
The game is slated to tip at 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network +.
Special thanks: Alabama Athletics Communications