While many Alabama fans were tuning into the Iron Bowl loss to Auburn on Saturday, one of the wildest college basketball games in recent memory was taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The rush that led to the entire Alabama bench being ejected, coupled with a John Petty ankle injury and Dazon Ingram foul-out left the Tide to play about the last ten minutes with incredible adversity with a two-man disadvantage.
What pursued from the madness was an eye-opening performance by one of the best players in the country in Tide freshman Collin Sexton.
Sexton’s outburst showed why Alabama fans have room for extreme optimism in the face of the tough loss to an outstanding Minnesota squad. He almost singlehandedly brought this to a one-possession game in the final moments.
Before the second half madness ensued, Alabama struggled to guard Minnesota star forward Jordan Murphy and guard Nate Mason. Murphy registered a double-double in the first half alone.
Going forward, an emphasis on rebounding must be made with this Tide team. Second chance opportunities plagued Alabama in the early going which led to the deficit when 5-on-3 play began.
The performance of Sexton along with fellow freshman Galin Smith and senior Riley Norris should make Alabama fans proud of their team in the face of unforeseen adversity. This experience should bring some unity to the young Alabama team as the meat of the season begins.
Although no punches were thrown, the instant reaction to protect Ingram shows that this Alabama team is beginning to gel as a group and that should be something Avery Johnson can be proud of.
Sexton’s outburst will go down as one of the greatest individual performances in Alabama basketball history. He is the first player to score 40 since Reggie King on Dec. 29, 1978 and he had at least two Golden Gophers shadowing him for the majority.
When Sexton plays at the level seen on Saturday, this team has the opportunity to have a special season.
Sexton’s ability to affect the game on both ends opens up opportunities for the much-improved supporting cast and when sophomore Braxton Key returns, this Alabama team has the potential to make a serious run in March.