HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (12/21/16) – Arkansas State men’s basketball struggled to 34 percent (20-59) from the floor and Alabama ran past the Red Wolves 67-52 Wednesday night in the Rocket City Classic at the Von Braun Center.
Deven Simms led all scorers with 15 points, but was 6-for-16 (.375) from the floor. Devin Carter was the only other A-State player in double figures finishing with 14 points on 5-of-16 (.313) shooting. Carter was 0-for-6 from 3-point range, his first game at A-State without a 3-point make. Jimmie Taylor led the Crimson Tide with 12 points, one of three to finish in double figures.
“Alabama really guarded the ball well,” said A-State head coach Grant McCasland. “We rely upon Donte Thomas making plays off the ball screen, but they did a good job putting pressure on the ball. We got our head down and tried to make too big a play on our own. I didn’t do a good enough job offensively to help our team tonight. We didn’t do a good enough job on ball movement and I’m honestly disappointed that I didn’t do a better job helping us get a win.”
“Defensively, we got some stops, but we didn’t come up the ball to give us a chance to make plays in transition. We looked a little dead, we looked a little tired and we didn’t have a zip to us where we could turn defensive rebounds into transition points. We were too slow in transition, then when we had angles, their big guys made plays and blocked shots at the rim.”
Alabama (6-5) showed aggressive defense from the opening tip, but the Red Wolves managed to hold as much as a five point lead for much of the opening 10-plus minutes of the game. Carter scored seven-straight for A-State midway through the first half to build a five-point advantage for the Red Wolves. Carter drove to the rim, was fouled and converted the free throw for an and-one to make it 12-11 with 10:59 left in the first half.
Carter sank two more free throws to make it 14-11 with 10:32 on the first half clock and converted a runner in the lane to make it 16-11 with 9:38 showing. Alabama converted a pair of free throws to cut it to 16-13, but Rashad Lindsey hit a jumper in the paint to rebuild the advantage to five points, 18-13, with 8:20 left in the first half.
After a layup by the Crimson Tide made it 18-15, C.J. Foster was called for a flagrant foul resulting in two shots and the ball. Alabama split the free throws, but an offensive rebound and put back tied the game with 6:42 remaining.
Shannon Hale converted the putback to tie the game and he followed with a 3-pointer on the other end to give Alabama the lead and the Crimson Tide never trailed after that. Alabama built a nine point advantage, 31-22, with 1:11 left in the first half, but Simms scored the final four points of the half on layups to cut the halftime deficit to 31-26.
The Red Wolves were able to pull within two points in the second half, on two different occasions, but Alabama pulled away for the 15-point win. Lindsey hit the first 3-pointer for A-State with 18:34 remaining and Tamas Bruce followed with a layup to trim the deficit to 34-32. The two teams traded buckets with Carter hitting a tough layup to make it 36-34 with 16:29 left.
Alabama outscored A-State 29-10 over the next 14 minutes to build a 21-point lead, 65-44, with 1:48 left. The Red Wolves were able to cut the final deficit to 15 points with Carter and Simms hitting layups while Kern drained a 3-pointer. A-State committed 10 turnovers in the second half and finished with 16 for the game against seven assists.
The Crimson Tide finished 50 percent (15-30) from the floor in the second half and 43.9 percent (25-57) on the night. Alabama was 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) beyond the arc, but A-State struggled as well going 4-for-15 (25 percent). The Red Wolves finished 8-for-19 (42.1 percent) at the charity stripe while Alabama was 13-for-22 (59.1 percent). A-State was out-rebounded 43-40 and lost the battle in the paint 40-26.
The Red Wolves travel to Minneapolis, Minn., tomorrow before taking on Minnesota Friday at 6:00 p.m. (CT) on the Big Ten Network.