Alabama wins home opener behind solid debut from Collin SextonBy Matthew Speakman | 11/14/2017 10:19pm
Collin Sexton scored 22 points in his debut for Alabama.
It was a highly anticipated home debut, and Alabama delivered. The Crimson Tide took down Lipscomb, 86-64, in a game that featured a myriad of highlight reel plays from a reinvented squad.
Leading the charge was freshman Collin Sexton, who stole headlines for most of the week leading up to Alabama’s season due to an eligibility question. Sexton had 22 points while shooting 70 percent from the field. He also added five assists, and Alabama outscored Lipscomb by 21 points when he was on the floor.
His debut had a lot of hype surrounding it, and Sexton seemed to handle it well. Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said Sexton brings an energy that the team needs.
“Whatever it is, that’s what we need, because we don’t talk,” Johnson said. “I need a little animation, emotion, and pride and whatever they call it- swagger. I call it confidence, not arrogance. I’m sure he probably was (nervous). He’s had a long road.”
Alabama was able to get Sexton back after he served the one-game suspension against Memphis.
The Crimson Tide also has three other players out due to injury. Tonight, Alabama had runs where Sexton and fellow freshman John Petty ignited the offense. Petty said it’s good for Alabama to get Sexton back, and to slow have its lineup come together.
“It’s finally good to be able to pick back up our team chemistry and put all of the pieces together that we had before the little situation popped up,” Petty said. “It was great just getting back into rhythm with each other.”
Alabama came out a little slow in the first half. The Crimson Tide battled with Lipscomb, and only took a seven-point lead into the locker room at halftime. To close out the half, Alabama went on a four-minute scoring drought to end the half.
The Crimson Tide ignited in the second half, however. The team slowly started to separate itself behind a big performance by Petty. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the last 20 minutes of the game, and connected on two shots from deep.
“I’m just not playing as aggressive as I need to in the first half,” Petty said. “I’m playing too passive with my shots. So, I just look to go out and do the things in the second half that I didn’t do in the first half.”
An emphasis heading into this game was improving Alabama’s defense. Alabama forced Lipscomb to just 33 percent shooting from the field, and 26 percent from beyond the arc. Still, Johnson wants Alabama’s defense to come out with more urgency.
“I still thought we were lackluster in the first half,” Johnson said. “The defense that we’ve played in the first half of both of these games is just not good enough.”
One area Alabama really struggled with last season was free throws. In its second game this year, those problems resurfaced. Alabama shot 12 of 32 (37.5 percent) from the line.
Johnson said the team is normally great from the line in practice. His team echoed that opinion.
“That’s not normal for us,” guard Dazon Ingram said. “We usually shoot the ball well from the free throw line in practice. I don't know what happened tonight. The ball just wasn’t going in the hole.”
Alabama will face Alabama A&M for its next game. That will be played on Friday at 6 p.m. Alabama is now 2-0 on the season.