The Alabama men’s basketball team woke from its recent shooting slumber on Saturday, Feb. 16 to defeat South Carolina 68-58 in Coleman Coliseum.
The Crimson Tide (17-8, 9-3 SEC) shot 46.8 percent (22-47) from the field and finished with six 3-pointers. Alabama started the game aggressively and shot at will from behind the arc. The Tide converted 45.5 percent (6-14) of its 3-pointers in the first half.
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey said his teammates took what South Carolina (12-13, 2-10) gave them and did not waste any time doing it.
“I think it’s because we got easy shots,” Lacey said. “We weren’t hesitant. We were more aggressive trying to score in transition earlier in the shot clock than later. That’s something that coach has been working on with us this week, not trying to wait until the last two seconds.”
However, free throws again proved to be a challenge for Alabama. The Tide shot 54.5 percent (18-33) from the charity stripe.
Head coach Anthony Grant said his team is full of good free throw shooters, but once one player starts to struggle the rest of the team starts to miss them too.
“Some games we come out and we’re really really good from the free throw line. Today wasn’t one of those days,” Grant said. “We talk about contagious effort, giving effort and how it trickles down to other guys and increases everybody’s energy level. It was almost like today was a contagious, bad free throw day.”
But the Tide received good news from within the SEC. With Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee, Alabama takes over sole possession of second place in the Southeastern Conference.
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said the Tide has a chance at winning the SEC tournament because of Grant’s ability to unite his players.
“Keeping his focus on what’s important has allowed his team to now become one of the elite teams in this league,” Martin said. “They’re in it. They’re not going anywhere. It’s the team that plays that defense that they play, the team that plays with the unity and passion that they play with. They’re in it. They will make a run at this league title.”
Lacey led all scorers with17 points. Nick Jacobs and Levi Randolph each had 10 points. Levi Randolph tallied six points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Freshman guard Retin Obasohan contributed eight points off the bench for Alabama. Lacey said Obasohan’s effort gives the Tide much-needed depth.
“We know what Retin can do,” Lacey said. “Every day in practice, he’s tough, and we’re just waiting on his outbreak. Today he showed you some flashes of what he’s capable of. It just helps us out big time and takes some of the load off me and Releford.”
Alabama recorded 12 steals and forced 20 turnovers. The Tide also had seven blocked shots opposed to South Carolina’s zero.
Brenton Williams paced the Gamecocks with 14 points off the bench.
Senior guard Andrew Steele did not play on Saturday. Grant said he is day-to-day with “discomfort in his right ankle from a stress reaction.”
Alabama will face the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at Coleman Coliseum.