Alabama jumps out early to beat South Carolina 76-62
By DREW HILL
Jan. 10, 2018
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — After being blown out at Georgia three days ago, Alabama coach Avery Johnson decided to mix up his starting lineup against South Carolina.
John Petty scored 15 points, Donta Hall added 13, and Alabama blew out South Carolina 76-62 on Tuesday night. The Crimson Tide bench scored 35 points to lead Alabama's efficient night on the offensive end.
It was Petty, a usual starter for the Crimson Tide, who provided an immediate spark for Alabama on the offensive end. The freshman knocked down back-to-back 3-point shots just a minute after checking into the game around the 13-minute mark of the first half. He would go on to score 12 points in the first 20 minutes, giving Alabama a seven-point advantage at the break.
"He helped us," Johnson said. "His shot selection was better. I thought he was as competitive on the defensive end (as offense). Even if he made a mistake, it wasn't because he wasn't competitive. I saw a change in his personality and his focus, and we needed it tonight."
Fellow guards, Dazon Ingram and Avery Johnson Jr., also gave Alabama some needed minutes off the bench. Ingram, who also has started multiple games this season, missed the Crimson Tide's last game due to illness. He was questionable entering Tuesday's contest, but played 17 minutes chipping in four points, three rebounds and two assists.
Avery Johnson Jr. scored 10 points of his own, knocking down two 3-point baskets. He was three points shy of a season-high.
"The difference between (Alabama) and my team right now is (Avery Johnson Jr.)," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "He's a leader. He's a fighter. He gets those guys to play the way that they are asking them to play, and that's what we are searching for."
The contributions off the bench became even more critical when the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer Collin Sexton picked up his second foul with just under 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Through 15 games, Sexton is averaging 20.5 points per game but he finished with a season-low five points.
"He's going to draw a lot of attention," Johnson said. "Just like tonight, three or three-and-a-half guys are on him all the time. And even sometimes on this level, even if it's single coverage you have some really good defenders in there."
Between centers Daniel Giddens and Donta Hall, the two Alabama (10-6, 2-2) big men scored 24 points and shot 92 percent from the floor. Both started the game, as Alabama went with a bigger lineup.
Leading the way for South Carolina (10-6, 1-3) was Wesley Myers with 15 points and two assists. The Gamecocks were held to 36 percent shooting from the field, and scored just three second-chance points.
Alabama: Won both conference home games in dominant fashion, beating both Texas A&M and South Carolina by at least 14 points. The Crimson Tide has lost both of its SEC contests on the road this season.
HE SAID IT
"We could have played a team with five 5-foot-2 people tonight and we still would have started the same lineup," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. "So, it was more about us. I have really been working overtime trying to figure our team out."
Two dunks by Hall and two 3-point baskets by Petty helped Alabama go on a 14-0 run beginning at the 15-minute mark of the first half and open up a 15-point lead. South Carolina was never able to completely recover, but cut the advantage to five one minute into the second half.
South Carolina will stay on the road and play surging Georgia on Saturday.
Alabama travels for a chance to pick up its first conference road win at LSU on Saturday.