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

Perfect start leads Alabama past Southern Miss

Alabama men’s basketball got off to a perfect start against Southern Miss on Thursday night, riding a 9-of-9 shooting start from the floor and another outstanding performance from captain Levi Randolph to a 81-67 win over the Golden Eagles.

“It was a great win tonight for our guys,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “With Southern Miss coming in, we know the history and tradition of their program and how hard those guys play… They shot the ball really well to start the game from the three-point line. I thought we did a good job of keeping them off the glass and did a good job of contesting their shots.”

Randolph had his own perfect start, making six straight shots before missing a fade away jumper at the 7:39 mark in the first half. The senior guard finished with 23 points on 8-12 shooting, including 3-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

“He really got it going tonight,” Grant said. “It’s great to see him get into a rhythm and flow like that, and it’s great to see his teammates find him and create those opportunities. He got us off to a great start and I think our team just followed him from there.”

After sitting out a year, guard Ricky Tarrant appears to be shaking off the rust, scoring 18 points of his own on 6-8 shooting and swiping three steals in his third game for the Crimson Tide.

“Things are starting to come back to me,” he said. “I have to thank my teammates and coaches for telling me to always play my game and things will come. My teammates did a great job tonight of putting me in great positions.”

Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said those two guards wrought havoc on his team’s defense.

“They’re both good players,” Sadler said. “Obviously I understand now why Anthony’s telling me that this is probably his best team since he’s been here. I think they’ve got a lot of pieces. Their guards are bigger than our inside guys. Their length really bothered us in the zone. Those two guys speak for itself and the two of them together had 40 points, so that’s tough for us to defend.”

Though early in the season, Alabama’s offense appears to be more productive than last season’s meager fare. After finishing 2013-14 with the 11th-ranked scoring offense in the SEC, Alabama has started its season with at least 80 points in three straight games for the first time since 2007-08.

“We feel that our depth is our strength on this team and that we have a variety of different weapons that on any given night can step up,” Grant said. What we’ve got to be able to do is take advantage of what is given up on any given night. I think our guys are understanding that and I think with every game we’re getting better.”

As Sadler pointed out, Alabama had a marked size advantage against the Golden Eagles, with Alabama’s tallest starter, the 6-foot-10 Jimmie Taylor, standing three inches above Southern Miss’s, forward Jeremiah Eason. Alabama was able to exploit this size advantage, racking up 24 points in the paint and winning the rebounding battle 36-22. Forward Shannon Hale had a career night for Alabama, recording his first double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Hale’s double-double marks Alabama’s third in as many games – one more than the total for 2013-14.

“Tonight we got a plus-14 rebounding margin,” Grant said. “Those kinds of things have been an Achilles heel for us. It was good tonight to see Shannon Hale go out tonight and get a double-double.”

Alabama will next face its toughest test to date, with back-to-back games against No. 14 Iowa State on Monday and either Maryland or Arizona State on Tuesday at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Missouri.

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