Alabama was firing on all cylinders last night in Auburn Arena. For the first time in recent memory, the Crimson Tide played as a true team. In the absence of Tony Mitchell, every player that stepped on the court played with heart and determination for Alabama. The Tide defeated Auburn 68-50, handing the Tigers their second home loss and forth straight in the series.
Coming into the game, the focus was on Tony Mitchell’s suspension. Everyone watching Tuesday night wanted to see how the Crimson Tide would respond. Although Auburn came out firing, Alabama rebounded quickly and never looked back.
The Crimson Tide put in a full body of work tonight. JaMychal Green led Alabama with 19 points and 7 rebounds. He also added a block. Charles Hankerson once again had the hot hand tonight, hitting 3 of 5 shots from behind the arc. Hankerson finished with 14 points. Trevor Releford did most of his work from the free throw line. He shot free throws for the three technical fouls committed by Auburn and finished with 15 points, and was 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
Anthony Grant went to the bench early. At one point in the first half, Alabama went 4:20 without a single starter on the floor. Carl Engstrom scored on back-to-back possessions and sparked the Tide early with four quick points. Rodney Cooper also added eight points from the bench. Bench scoring was once again a big factor in Tuesday night’s game. In Alabama’s last three games, the Crimson Tide bench is averaging over 25 points.
Team morale proved to be crucial, many would credit the absence of Tony Mitchell for this one. Even though Alabama went down early, they kept the game close. Anthony Grant was even fired up at times. Coach Grant showed a little celebration after a nice finish by Charles Hankerson.
Alabama was very impressive on the offensive side of the ball, especially in the shooting department. The Tide finished 46.2 percent from the field (24-52) and 42.9 percent (6-14) from three-point range. A statement was made tonight by the Alabama basketball team. They proved that this team can shoot. If Alabama can continue this tear in scoring, they are poised to make a run.
Another key factor was Alabama’s ability to work the shot clock. Almost every possession in the second half seemed to span the whole shot clock for the Tide. But, they weren’t wasted possessions. Alabama worked the clock well and managed to get some great shots with time expiring. When Florida comes to Tuscaloosa in a couple games, it will be key for Alabama to hold the ball and get quality shots.
Frankie Sullivan was the lone Auburn Tiger in double digits with 21 points. He was 6 of 12 from the field and 7 of 11 from the free throw line.
For Alabama, this is a huge boost for the team’s morale and chemistry. The Tide proved tonight that they can win without Tony Mitchell and win big. If Anthony Grant can get all of the players on Alabama’s team to buy into his system, the rest of this season could be a very interesting ride.
Alabama will travel to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers on Saturday, February 11, continuing their SEC schedule.