Alabama Basketball: Second half explosion leads Tide to victory over Gamecocks

Alabama v Vanderbilt
Alabama v Vanderbilt / Johnnie Izquierdo/GettyImages

The Alabama Basketball team faced one of the tougher teams in the conference when the South Carolina Gamecocks came to town. While the Alabama Basketball team entered the game as one of the nation's top offenses averaging 91.8 points per game which ranks second in the country the Gamecocks presented a tough defensive challenge. The Gamecocks entered the matchup allowing just 63 points per game which ranked 18th in college basketball. At 13-1 entering the matchup South Carolina provided the Alabama Basketball team with one of their toughest tests of the season.

Nick Pringle got the start down low for the Alabama Basketball team as Mohamed Wague missed the game with an undisclosed foot injury that has him in a boot.

The Gamecocks' defense flexed its muscles early with the Alabama Basketball team turning the ball over four of its first five possessions allowing South Carolina to take an early 10-3 lead. With the Alabama Basketball team struggling offensively Mark Sears carried the load for the team. Sears scored 15 of Alabama Basketball's 30 first-half points on 5-7 shooting with the rest of the team shooting 6-18. Turnovers and allowing offensive rebounds kept the Alabama Basketball team from leading by more than one point at halftime. The tide turned the ball over six times and allowed six offensive rebounds.

The Alabama Basketball team quickly flipped the script in the second half in a major part due to Mark Sears. The team went on an eight-point run before the first media timeout thanks to a long three from Sears followed by two great assists including an ally-oop to Rylan Griffin.

The defense started the second half dominating allowing the Gamecocks to score just once in the first seven minutes, building an eleven-point lead. The second half offensively was all Sears and Aaron Estrada as the duo took over the game leading the Alabama Basketball team to victory. The second half may have been the most encouraging the team has played with the group playing outstanding defense. The Crimson Tide allowed only 18 points in the second half, showing the tougher defense that Nate Oats has been asking for. The Gamecocks turned the ball over 17 times, thanks in part to the defense resulting in the best performance from the Tide so far.

Mark Sears led the game with 31 points adding six rebounds, three assists, and three steals, shooting 6-8 from three and 10-13 from the field. Aaron Estrada was right behind him scoring 17 points on 7-11 shooting. The Alabama Basketball team was dominant despite a quiet night from Grant Nelson who was held scoreless in the game

Alabama Basketball: Tide will go as far as Mark Sears takes them

Last season, the Alabama Basketball team had a superstar in Brandon Miller but, the supporting cast around him was stronger than this year's team. Mark Sears isn't Brandon Miller, but the team will run through Sears this season. If Mark Sears can continue to perform as he has, then the Alabama Basketball team will compete for an SEC Championship and make a deep run in March. The team needs to find a consistent third scorer behind Estrada and Sears. Behind the leading duo's output against South Carolina, the Tide's next leading scorers were Sam Walters with six and Rylan Griffen with five points.

Note: All stats via ESPN