After a sloppy start to a game where the Alabama men’s basketball team found themselves trailing at halftime, the Crimson Tide went on cruise control in the second half to beat Stillman 76-68 in its lone exhibition game of the season.
Highly-touted freshman Devonta Pollard was every bit as good as expected in his Coleman Coliseum debut, leading the way for the Tide with 15 points and seven rebounds. After shooting only 1-of-5 in the first half, Pollard woke up in the second half, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Head coach Anthony Grant was impressed with the way Pollard performed in the second half after the team’s slow start.
“I think as he learns the game, obviously you can see he is very talented and he adds a dimension to our team that is very much needed and he has a chance to really help us,” Grant said.
His teammates were equally impressed by the way he stepped it up in the second half.
“His ability to perform being a freshman is just incredible,” junior center Moussa Gueye said.
Along with Pollard, the Tide relied heavily on its front-court throughout the game, with Gueye and sophomore Nick Jacobs combining for 30 points. Both players showed major improvement from last season, with Jacobs dominating at times on the offensive end, and Gueye providing much needed dewfensive help in the paint after losing JaMychal Green to graduation.
Like most of last season, the Tide struggled to shoot from the perimeter, scoring only one three–pointer throughout the game. Grant attributes Stillman’s defense to the Tide’s outside shooting woes and why the team kept feeding the ball inside.
“They did a very good job of keeping pressure on the basketball and harassing the dribblers and not letting us get ball reversal,” Grant said. “They did a good job of being aggressive, so we had to take what the defense was giving us, and tonight we had the advantage on the interior, it was good to see our guys take advantage of it.”
Along with the perimeter shooting, most of the team’s struggles came from its interior defense, allowing Stillman multiple easy drives to the basket. Overall though, the Tide did what they needed to get the win and get ready for the start of the regular season this weekend.
“It’s a learning process, and after tonight it gets real in a hurry. Got South Dakota State coming in. They are an excellent team, and we are going to have to obviously do a lot better in a lot of areas to be ready to go on Friday.”
The Tide will open the regular season at home in the 2K Sports Classic against South Dakota State at 8 p.m. on Nov. 9.