Alabama scored a dominant 79-57 victory over No. 5 Texas A&M on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum.
The Crimson Tide led by as many as 23 points and never appeared to be in danger of losing the lead, as the short-handed Aggies couldn’t match the intensity of Avery Johnson’s team.
Alabama shot 45.6 percent from the floor, and most importantly, went 20 of 24 from the free-throw line (83.3 percent).
Meanwhile, Texas A&M made just 2 of 21 attempts from 3-point range and struggled to find any consistent offense from the perimeter with Admon Gilder and D.J. Hogg both sidelined.
The victory marked Alabama’s first win over an AP Top 5 opponent since 2004.
Here are some takeaways from the game.
1. This wasn’t just about Texas A&M missing players
I know some people will point towards the absence of Gilder and Hogg as being the reason that Alabama won the game, but that’s not accurate.
The Tide simply took it to the Aggies in this one. Johnson had his team focused from the tip, and it showed in Alabama’s quick start.
The game obviously would have played out different had those two been on the court, but an effort like this would likely still give the Crimson Tide the advantage.
2. The most impressive aspect of this win was what came before it
Alabama suffered an ugly loss to Texas eight days ago, and it was one so bad that many people jumped off the bandwagon.
However, to bounce back with a win like this shows that this program is in good hands with Johnson and company at the helm. The Tide could have came out rusty after the week-long layoff, but instead, they were determined to prove that the Texas performance was an outlier.
And the result was Alabama scoring its biggest win of the season thus far.
3. Numbers, numbers, numbers
Texas A&M’s overall numbers entering this game were almost as impressive as it gets.
Talk all you want about who was and wasn’t on the court, but Texas A&M came into the game ranked No. 5 in the country and No. 8 in the RPI. It’s an excellent win for Alabama no matter how you slice it.
— Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell) December 31, 2017
Beating a team ranked that high in nearly every important metric is massive. This was the signature win that Alabama needed after a lackluster finish to pre-conference play, and it’s going to look very good come March.
The Crimson Tide were in fine shape themselves in the RPI (No. 34), but this win will give them a nice boost.
4. Stepping up to the challenge
Texas A&M fields three 6-10 players that play a ton of minutes (Tyler Davis, Robert Williams, and Tonny Trocha-Morelos), so the challenge was obvious for Donta Hall and Daniel Giddens.
And it was Hall that once again stepped up to the challenge.
The junior scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting and added six rebounds and two blocked shots, once again furthering his case as the team’s most improved player and one of the most underrated big men in the country.
In a league filled with size and athleticism, Hall’s continued production will help Alabama stay in the regular season title hunt.
5. How do you respond to success?
It’s a question that coaches ask their teams all the time. And now, with the Tide scoring a potential season-altering win, that’s what Johnson and his staff are about to find out.
Alabama will hit the road for three of its next four SEC games, starting with a trip to Nashville on Tuesday to take on a struggling Vanderbilt squad.
Remember: The Crimson Tide are still one of the most inexperienced teams in the conference (and the country), ranking only behind Kentucky in that category.
And anyone who has watched this team this season will tell you that Alabama has looked very inexperienced at times due to the consistency issues.
So, how they handle success going forward will tell us a lot about the maturation process of this team and whether they can compete at the top when it matters most.
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