TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama men's basketball program won its opening game of the season 82-62 on Tuesday night. Senior forward Donta Hall matched his career high with 20 points and went 8-of-9 from the line, to lead the charge for the Crimson Tide, who had four players finish in double figures.
Hall was joined by sophomore John Petty who poured in 17 points while connecting on five three-pointers. Tevin Mack was able to put up 10 points in his debut game for Alabama and Galin Smith also put in 10 points. Freshman Kira Lewis Jr., who earned the start at point guard, finished with a game-high seven assists to go along with six points.
The Tide played without Riley Norris, Dazon Ingram and Javian Davis-Fleming, who were all sidelined for Tuesday’s contest with injuries.
“First of all I just want to thank my alma mater Southern University for coming to Tuscaloosa and playing this game,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “As for our team, I thought we finished the first half awfully strong. We got some momentum there and the ball started moving and we were dominant on the backboards. Obviously, throughout the game we still turned it over a little bit too much, but I was really proud of some of the shots we got especially from behind the three-point line. I was proud of the way the guys moved the ball. We had some guys in uniform for the very first time whether its Tevin Mack or Kira Lewis – those guys need reps and minutes. But, I’m really proud of our team because you just never know how these first games could go at home, especially against an opponent that you’re not familiar with.”
The two teams exchanged baskets early on, until Alabama was able to capitalize on a 12-2 run with 6:27 left in the half to put the Tide up 32-20. From there, the Tide was able to clamp down defensively and force the Jaguars to miss their last 10 attempts from the field before the half. In doing so, Alabama went on a 13-1 run to end the half and take a 45-27 lead at intermission.
In the second half, Alabama remained in control by using a 13-2 run with 7:21 left in the game to take a commanding 71-45 lead. From there, the defense clamped down and helped lead the Tide to the 20-point victory.
The Crimson Tide held the Jaguars to shooting only 38 percent from the field and 17 percent (3-of-17) from beyond the arc.
Prior to the game, Johnson, who graduated from Southern in 1988 as the program’s all-time assist leader, was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Jaguars’ Alumni Association.
“I obviously was really flattered by the distinguished alumni award,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what’s so distinguishing about me, but I’m very honored and flattered. My wife and I both obviously graduated from Southern. I was impressed with Southern, I thought they fought back in the second half. (Head coach) Sean Woods is in his first year at Southern, but he’s going to have them playing at a high level especially come conference. Hopefully they’ll be a team to make some noise.”
The Crimson Tide will return to action Sunday night when it hosts Appalachian State at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network in Coleman Coliseum. The game will be part of Bama Salute night, which recognizes all military veterans prior to and during the contest.