Alabama Routs Indiana State 102-80
The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Indiana State Sycamores 102-80, with Aaron Estrada leading the way with 27 points. Mark Sears contributed 24 points and Grant Nelson added 20 points along with a game-high eight rebounds. Isaiah Swope led Indiana State with 17 points, followed by Ryan Conwell's 16 points, and Julian Larry's 15 points.
The game was close at the start, with both teams shooting 47% in the first half. Although Alabama had the advantage in rebounds, three-pointers, and turnovers, the Sycamores were one less behind in those categories. The Crimson Tide made nine three-pointers in the first half, but Indiana State's shooting, which made eight threes and played excellent defense, kept this game close.
Head coach Nate Oates was not pleased with how his team had defended in the first half and mentioned things that they could have done to improve those issues.
"Blowbys are a big one," Oates said. "We chart them so we know who getting blown by. We go back and reset them after the game. Our ball pressure could have saved them a bunch of times. We got to get some rim protection too; Mo Wague had two blocks. He and Grant had two blocks; we just got to get better rim protection in there."
Indiana State began the game with a 9-0 run, but Alabama responded with four consecutive three-pointers - one by Ryan Griffin and the next three by Estrada. This helped the Crimson Tide to embark on a 15-0 scoring run with 13:42 remaining in the first half. By halftime, Alabama had taken the lead with a score of 48-37.
In the second half, Alabama's defense intensified and held Indiana State to only 16.7% from three. Although the Sycamores shot a relatively high 53% from the field, they only attempted 30 shots.
In the second half, Alabama showed an impressive performance with 57% shooting accuracy from the field and made four three-pointers. What worked in their favor was their ability to get to the free-throw line more often than in the first half. They finished the game with a record of 23 out of 27 free throws, which was better than the Sycamores' record of 16 out of 26 from the line.
"We had three guys score over 20, thought that was impressive," Oates said. "Our defense was not good again. We got to do a way better job on defense; obviously, our rotation had shrunk a little compared to the last game, just with how tight the game was. We just got to continue to get better on defense."
The squad is missing former big man Charles Bediako, who was one of the best rim defenders in the country last season. The hole left by his absence is something that Oats indicated they are very much missing and hope Mohammed Wague and others may assist in filling.
"We're missing Charles [Bediako]," Oats said. "So who can replace Charles with that rim protection? Well, Mo showed he is more than capable of doing it, he had a couple of blocks."
Estrada and Sears both played exceptionally well tonight, scoring a combined total of 51 points. Despite only being in his second game with the Tide, Estrada has already established himself as one of the team's most valuable players, thanks to his scoring ability and playmaking skills. Meanwhile, Sears has been a consistent performer on his end, hitting threes, playing with physicality, and motivating his teammates to perform better.
"Aaron came out great; I thought we really needed him," Oats said. "Sears had seven at the half and ended up with 17 in the second half. We saw that both are capable of going for 20 in a half. You get both of them in the backcourt; that's huge. That's hard to focus on the one; if you want to put your best defender on Aaron after he gets cooking like he did and then put your second best defender on Sears, well, then that's going to be a problem too."
Alabama has now scored 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1965, and they look to keep the winning streak going against South Alabama on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Alabama MBB vs Indiana State
Gallery Credit: SEC Media