Alabama honors seniors and sophomore walk-on during victorious Senior NightBy Tyler Waldrep | 03/01/2017 10:48pm
Alabama students have been guilty of chanting for sophomore Lawson Schaffer to see more time on the court all season whenever the Crimson Tide leads regardless of how much time remains in the game.
On Wednesday night, Alabama coach Avery Johnson decided to give the fans what they wanted while his team stared at a 3-point deficit with just over five minutes remaining in the first half against Ole Miss.
“I know it’s Senior Night, but I wanted to do something to honor him [Schaffer], because he’s worked hard. He comes every practice,” Johnson said. “You know he and I were teammates on the scout team on Monday and I said ‘since I can’t get out there he’s got to represent me.’”
The sophomore from Cullman, Alabama made the most of his opportunity and knocked down a 3-pointer. His teammates added eight more points to finish the 11-2 run that allowed Alabama to
take control of a lead it would never lose as the Crimson Tide claimed a 70-55 victory over the Rebels.
“He’s [Schaffer] a fan favorite so when he got in the crowd went wild,” Dazon Ingram said. “And he hit the 3 so that was big for us and it got everybody else into the game.”
The win against Ole Miss (18-12, 9-8 Southeastern conference) was an important one for Alabama’s position in the SEC Tournament. The Crimson Tide (17-12, 10-7 SEC) now has control of the fifth seed in the conference and should Alabama lose Saturday the farthest it can drop is sixth.
Nine players scored in the victory, but as usual, it was the freshman duo of Braxton Key (19 points) and Ingram (a career-high 22 points) that powered Alabama’s offense.
“They [Key and Ingram] just did some really great things with the basketball,” Johnson said. “...Those two guys specifically showed that man, when they’re on their game that takes us to another level.”
Senior Jimmie Taylor finished the night with three blocks to bring his career total to 201. He is the sixth player in program history to reach the 200 mark and he is 12 away from taking fifth place away from former Alabama player JaMychal Green.
After the game ended, Taylor didn’t linger in the middle of the court relishing what could be his last win inside Coleman Coliseum. He knew how he wanted to spend that moment- with his family. Specifically with his young son Malik whom he carried halfway to the locker room before allowing him to walk the rest of the way.
“It’s [Senior Night] a heart-warming experience,” Taylor said. “...Senior Night let’s go out and play and win and get a win, get a W, on Senior Night is great.”
Taylor’s efforts inside, along with that of of his teammates, allowed Alabama to hold an Ole Miss team that was averaging 78.5 points per game to its second lowest scoring output of the season.
Fellow seniors Corban Collins and Bola Olaniyan also left their mark on Senior Night. Collins, the team’s No. 6 scoring threat scored five points to match his highest scoring output since a Feb. 7th game against South Carolina. Olaniyan grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
“Corban Collins and Bola are two guys that could have gone to other schools," Johnson said. "They were being highly recruited with the fifth year graduate program, but they took a chance on Alabama and coach Avery and our staff and I just really have just enjoyed working with all three of those guys [including Taylor].”