Alabama wraps up non-conference play with a win over Norfolk State

Tyler Waldrep

Alabama led by five points at the half, but the Crimson Tide’s loss against Oregon was fresh in coach Avery Johnson’s mind.

Then, Alabama had blown a 12-point lead thanks in large part to second half turnovers. Johnson values the first few minutes of both halves, and that wasn’t the first time Alabama had failed to start off the second half off the wrong way.

On Saturday, Alabama used a 15-5 run to put Norfolk State away and win the game 68-49.

“I liked our intensity. The first seven, five to seven minutes of the second half is where I wanted to see where we were,” Johnson said. “That’s been a weakness that I thought we overcame tonight.”

Johnson was less impressed with the way his team took care of the basketball. He plans to address this in practice next week when the team has what he is calling “No turnover Monday.”

“We’ve got to value the ball more,” Johnson said. “We had 13 assists [and] 13 turnovers, some careless turnovers, we’ll continue to get better, but another stellar defensive effort from our team.”

Alabama has now prevented four of its last six opponents from scoring 60 points or more, but the Crimson Tide has struggled to score as well.

Before Saturday, Alabama failed to score 60 points in regulation in three of the Crimson Tide’s last five contest and only topped 70 points once over that same stretch.

Alabama didn’t score 70 points today but the Crimson Tide did manage to pick up some offensive momentum the team can take with it into SEC play thanks to a great performance from Retin Obasohan.

Retin Obasohan shot 9-12 from the field and 3-6 from beyond the arc to lead all scorers with 23 points after he failed to top 12 points in his last three games. Obasohan also accounted for four of Alabama’s five second half steals.

“I’m just happy we got the W,” Obasohan said. “That’s my main focus, whether I struggle or I play a good game.”

Alabama’s other top scorer, Shannon Hale, made progress today as he returned to the court after sitting out the last three games. Hale finished the game 0-3 from the field with two points, but Johnson limited the minutes he was able to play as he works his way back into the starting lineup.

With a trip to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Rebels and a home contest against Kentucky on next week’s schedule Alabama will likely need its top two scorers if the Crimson Tide wants to start conference play off the right way.

“I’m ecstatic. There’s nothing like SEC basketball,” Obasohan said. “I mean everything just increases, the stakes, the atmosphere, the competition, the intensity.”