The Alabama Crimson Tide cruised past Georgia Tech 73-48 in their final non-conference tune-up before opening up conference play on Saturday in Athens against Georgia. The Crimson Tide lost their two previous true road games against Dayton and Kansas State, so going to Atlanta and knocking off the Yellow Jackets in convincing fashion was a much needed confidence boost for this team before the start of SEC action.
As usual, Alabama used a strong defensive performance to lead them to the victory. They forced 22 Georgia Tech turnovers, and held them to just 40% shooting. The Jackets become the 10th team this season held to under 60 points by the Tide. To go along with the superb effort on the defensive end, Alabama played very well offensively. They shot 54% from the floor led by Trevor Releford. Releford remains hot as he went 8-of-8 from the floor for 17 points. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
Tony Mitchell was the second leading scorer with 14 points and 6 rebounds to go along with a couple more highlight jams.
The big stories in this game were the returns of JaMychal Green from an injury that kept him out of a couple games, and the return of Andrew Steele to the basketball team after concussions had appeared to cut his basketball career short. Steele was not expected to be able to play basketball again, but he made his season debut in Atlanta and played very well, showing little rust.
Steele made both of his shot attempts and finished with 9 points and a couple of rebounds. As for JaMychal Green, he did not start the game, but he came off the bench to score 9 points and grab 5 boards. His return is a big boost for the Crimson Tide, and it was good to see him get some game action again before the start of SEC play.
Georgia Tech as a whole struggled to find space against the swarming Alabama defense, but forward Kammeon Holsey performed very well by connecting on 7 of his 9 shot attempts for 14 points.
Alabama finishes non-conference play with an 11-3 record, much better than their 8-6 record at this point last season. While a 12-4 record in an improved SEC isn’t expected, the Crimson Tide seem to be in very good shape for a bid to the NCAA Tournament if they finish the season well.
This team is only going to keep getting better as the season goes on and the freshmen get more and more acclimated to the college game. They still have a chance to make this a special basketball season in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama opens up SEC play with two winnable games against Georgia on the road, and then back in Coleman against LSU next Wednesday. Following those two games, the Crimson Tide face a very tough three game stretch against Mississippi State on the road, Vanderbilt at home, and then Kentucky on the road.
We’ll see early on if this team is legitimate contenders for an SEC Championship.