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

Norris scores career-high 27 points and Alabama beats No. 19 South Carolina


Riley Norris hadn’t started a game all season, but coach Avery Johnson decided he would join the starting lineup when unbeaten No. 19 South Carolina came to town.

Norris more than validated that decision when he scored a career-high 27 points after shooting 8-of-11 from behind the arc, and he led the team with seven rebounds in Alabama’s 73-50 victory over the Gamecocks. It’s the Crimson Tide’s first victory over a ranked opponent in Coleman Coliseum since Alabama beat Kentucky on Jan. 18, 2011.

“You just kind of get in a zone I guess,” Norris said.“It doesn’t matter to me coming off the bench or starting. I give all the credit to my teammates tonight. They found me when I was open.”

Johnson said Norris wasn’t exactly celebrating his promotion to the starting lineup when he found out on Monday. Johnson said he thought Norris was worried about how his teammate Justin Coleman would react since it meant he would take Norris’ spot on the bench.

After the game, Coleman had nothing but praise for the guy who took his spot in the starting lineup. 

“Riley is a great shooter, he one of the best shooters in the country so every time it ever leaves his hand I always think its going in,” Coleman said. “[His play] tonight wasn’t surprising at all.”

Coleman finished as Alabama’s No. 2 scorer in the game with 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded a game-high six assists.

Johnson evaluates his team every seven games to determine if the starting lineup should be changed or if the team needs to focus on a specific area like rebounding. Alabama’s loss to Kentucky on Saturday was its 14th game of the season and when Johnson sat down and evaluated everything he decided to give Norris the start.

Johnson said the team needed to be a little bit bigger and more aggressive since South Carolina prides itself on winning the rebounding battle. Norris brought that and more to the starting lineup.

“We knew that [Duane] Notice was going to come in the game early and we had to have Retin [Obasohan] and Riley already out on the floor and ready to go,” Johnson said. “We were struggling rebounding the ball so we needed to try to get a bigger body in there to help us on the boards.”

When the Gamecocks visited Tuscaloosa last season Notice scored 16 points, but this time around he was held to seven points. He finished the game shooting 2-of-8 from the field.

Norris couldn’t help but celebrate when he made one of his final 3-point shots in the game. He said he doesn’t know what he was thinking then, but he is certain he hasn’t felt like that during a game since he was in high school.

The crowd inside Coleman Coliseum seemed to stand up every time Norris touched the ball, and when he went to check out of the game for good, with 2:20 left on the clock, the crowd gave him one more loud ovation. 

“The crowd was great,” Norris said. “You gotta give props to our students they were overflowing tonight I heard, and they were outstanding. They played a major role in us getting a win tonight.”

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