Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alabama wins fourth straight game, defeats Mercer to end homestand

CW/ Riley Thompson

On to Destin.   

Alabama men’s basketball ended its four-game homestand with a 98-67 victory against the Mercer Bears, winning its fourth straight and opening the Emerald Coast Classic with a win.  

The Crimson Tide came flying out of the gates offensively, hitting its first nine shots, eight of which came inside the paint. This resulted in a 15-4 Alabama run to start the contest. Mercer took over five minutes to score its first field goal.  

Alabama dominated the paint for much of the first half, scoring 20 of its first 23 points from inside.  

Guard Mark Sears led the attack in the paint in the first half, getting inside and finishing with finesse on multiple possessions. The Muscle Shoals native had 19 points in the period on 8-10 shooting.  

“I want to show that I’m not just a 3-point shooter,” Sears said. “That’s [finishing at the rim] something I want to expand in my game.” 

Alabama finished the half, shooting an impressive 23-29 from the floor, compared with Mercer’s 10-29.  

With around four seconds left in the half, head coach Nate Oats called a timeout, drawing up a play for a potential buzzer-beating basket. After receiving the inbound, Sears went coast-to-coast and finished with contact at the rim as time expired, igniting Coleman Coliseum.  

“I thought it was a good start,” Oats said postgame. “We shot 79% in the first half. That’s pretty good offensive output.” 

The Crimson Tide’s offensive momentum slowed down in the second half, however. After a first half of shooting almost 80% from field, Alabama only hit 40% of its shots from the field and shot a very poor 18% from long range in the second.  

Unlike in the first half, Alabama’s offense had much more balanced production, with no player scoring over double digits in the half. Forward Nick Pringle led the Crimson Tide in scoring in the second half with 8 points.  

Alabama’s defense also stumbled in the second half, allowing Mercer to score 28 points in the paint compared with the 12 it scored down low in the first half.  

Pringle finished the contest with 14 points on 7-8 shooting, including an electrifying alley-oop finish off an assist from Sears. He also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.  

“This was his best game he’s played for us,” Oats said postgame. “He ended up wearing the hard hat.”  

Sears came back down to earth in the second half, scoring only 5 points in the period. The veteran guard still led the Crimson Tide in scoring, finishing the contest with 24 points along with five rebounds and six assists.  

Freshman forward Jarin Stevenson and guard Aaron Estrada finished with 14 points and 10 points, respectively.  

Forward Grant Nelson had a quiet night for the second consecutive game, but led the Crimson Tide in rebounding, grabbing seven boards. Alabama outrebounded the Bears 44-30.  

A series of turnovers and sloppy play late in the contest led Alabama to fall just short of the 100-point mark for the fourth straight game. The Crimson Tide had one last shot as time expired, but guard Kai Spears’ halfcourt heave at the buzzer came just shy of the rim, grazing the net as the crowd let out a collective sigh of disappointment. 

“I thought it’s been a good first four games for us, particularly with a new squad,” Oats said. “A lot of good things to look at, but we got some work to do here in this next week before we play Ohio State.”  

Alabama will have a week to prepare for a date with Ohio State at the continuation of the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Florida, on Nov. 24. 

The game will be available for streaming on the FloHoops website with tipoff set for 6 p.m.  

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