Holding Southern without a field goal over the final 9:10 of the first half Tuesday night, Alabama opened its basketball season with an 82-62 non-conference win at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Donta Hall went 8-for-9 from the field and scored a game-high 20 points for the Crimson Tide while John Petty drilled five 3-pointers and finished with 17. Tevin Mack and Galin Smith each contributed 10 points.
Eddie Reese paced the Jaguars with 16 points. Teammate Aaron Ray chipped in 10, all at the foul line, as the SWAC team struggled to consistently make shots. Southern connected on just 38.2 percent of its field goals, 17.6 percent of its 3-pointers and 56.7 percent at the foul line.
Reese dunked on the fast break with 17:15 left to cap a 9-2 spurt that pulled the Jaguars within 49-36, forcing Alabama coach Avery Johnson to use a timeout. But the Tide gradually restored complete control, pushing the margin back to 21 on two foul shots by Mack with 9:20 remaining and cruising to the finish line.
Alabama trailed for just 24 seconds in the game’s first minute, but Southern stayed reasonably competitive for most of the first half. The Jaguars trailed only 17-16 after a Sydney Umude dunk at the 10:56 mark of the half.
The Crimson Tide finally created separation with a game-shaping run following Umude’s jumper with 9:10 remaining that drew Southern within 20-18. Alabama rattled off nine straight points in a 1:44 span, taking its first double-figure lead at 29-18 on two free throws by Herbert Jones.
Mack’s three-point play with four seconds remaining in the half upped the margin to 20 before a pair of free throws by Ray after time expired made the Tide’s lead 45-27 at halftime.
As often happens in an early-season game, the teams played sloppily and physically. They combined for 53 fouls and 58 free throws, with two Jaguar starters fouling out. Alabama won despite committing 20 turnovers, although it also scored 21 points off 15 Southern miscues.
—Field Level Media