It took a game against a five-loss Southern Mississippi team to do it, but Alabama basketball is not leaving the islands without a win in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The 2019 ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’ featured eight teams. Alabama basketball leaves the Bahamas as No. 7 in the field, thanks to a win over Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles entered the contest with five losses. Considering it is only November, five losses, already, is ugly. They got their sixth Friday night as Nate Oats’ Alabama basketball team won 83-68.
The win takes the Crimson Tide to 3-4 on the season. At this point, any win is a good win for Alabama basketball. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 20-4 lead, looking like it would run USM off the court and maybe onto the nearby beach. The success did not last. After the lead, USM fought back aided by a 22-8 run of its own. At halftime, the score was 38-35 in favor of the Crimson Tide.
After the break, the Crimson Tide regained control and won easily. James ‘Beetle’ Bolden came off the Tide bench to lead the team in scoring with 23 points. Bolden was 6-for-8 outside the arc. Kira Lewis Jr. added 20 points for the Crimson Tide.
John Petty Jr. did not explode for a third straight game, mainly because he took only six shots and scored 10 points. Petty led the Tide in rebounding with eight boards and added two assists. The Tide shot 54 percent for the game and 46 percent from 3pt. shots.
Free-throw shooting was a Tide blemish at just 55 percent. Turnover remained a problem. The Tide turned it over 15 times, far too many considering the competition. Again, most of the turnovers were unforced errors.
Without a hot Beetle Bolden in the second half, the Tide’s third win on the season would not have been easy.
When lesser teams like Alabama basketball and Southern Mississippi enter a tough tournament, being realistic is important. Games this soon against North Carolina and Iowa State are unfair measurements for Nate Oats. In a scheduling situation not of his choosing, you hope a re-tooled team learns and improves.
This team has much room for improvement. So far, it does not appear the roster has the skill set to execute Nate Oats’ style of play.
As we said up top, any win is a good win. Next up for the Crimson Tide will be the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in Tuscaloosa.