Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats scheduled Southern Illinois for a charity exhibition game Saturday, almost certainly in part to learn more about his team before the season begins. Bama was good enough to win 73-64 in historic Foster Auditorium. However, if he wanted a shooting exhibition or for the Crimson Tide to put on a strong finish, he was disappointed.
Alabama had a 10-point lead at halftime, didn’t allow the visiting Salukis to get within double figures for 15 minutes, led by 21 points in the final 3.5 minutes before giving up a 12-point run. by SIU to complete the game.
This does not count as an exhibition game.
Alabama’s actual season opener is Monday, Nov. 7 against Longwood at Coleman Coliseum.
Since it was an exhibition, what are the impressions? It’s definitely an Alabama track and field team. The Tide was very aggressive on defense, forcing Southern Illinois to resort to three-point shooting (but those must be guarded) and tough inside shots.
Alabama was also very good at moving the ball on offense, getting to the rim and limiting the Salukis to just one shot on most trips. The three-point shooting was bad.
Alabama’s rebuilding basketball team had four men in double figures, with freshman Brandon Miller leading the way with 14 points, Mark Sears with 12, returner Noah Gurley with 12 and Nick Pringle with 10.
Pringle and Noah Clowney each had 8 rebounds to lead Bama. Oats said Clowney won the team’s Hard Hat Award for that play.
Both teams shot 41 percent from the field, Bama 26-63, SIU 23-56. The Salukis made 8-26 3-pointers, Alabama just 3-22 (14 percent). The Tide won the rebounding battle 46-29, notably holding SIU to just 8 offensive boards. Bama also won second chance points (14-5), paint points (44-28) and fast break points (19-6).
Oats was “all in all, pretty happy,” he said. He wasn’t happy with the end of the game, where four Tide turnovers contributed to SIU’s completion, saying, “We didn’t shoot it well, but I think it’s going to get better.
“The rebounding was great, we had a lot of defensive energy and we played hard.
There were four early lead changes in the first half before Noah Clowney’s tip-in put Alabama ahead for good at 8-7. Brandon Miller made a half-court steal, finishing with a dunk, giving the Tide a 10-point lead at 26-16. Bama would go up by 14 in the final four minutes, 35-21, with a 3-pointer.
Alabama had the ball for a potential final drive before halftime, but a turnover ended the first half and the Tide held a 37-27 lead.
- Alabama’s starting lineup consisted of guards Jaden Bradley and Dom Welch, center Noah Clowney and forwards Noah Gurley and Brandon Miller.
- Charles Bediako, who started 30 games for Bama last year, was injured and did not start against Southern Illinois. Nimari Burnett, who missed all of last season and Bam’s earlier game at TCU, was on a “pitch count,” according to coach Nate Oats, but was in the first group of infielders and started in the second half. Returning quarterback Jahvon Quinerly continues to be sidelined as he recovers from an ACL injury suffered in the Tide’s final game of last season.
- In addition to the TCU scrimmage and Saturday’s charity exhibition, the Tide had three games in Europe this summer, winning all three against national teams from Spain, Lithuania and China.
- The game, which was played in Foster Auditorium, was initially limited to students only, but when it became apparent that there would be a thin crowd, the gym was opened to others, though too late for many to take advantage.
- Alabama was ranked No. 19 in the preseason Coaches Poll and No. 20 in the Associated Press Preseason Poll and was picked fifth in the Southeastern Conference in this year’s SEC Media Day poll.