TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men’s basketball team took down No. 12/11 Oklahoma, 80-73, in front of a sold out crowd in Coleman Coliseum Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the Crimson Tide’s third win this season over an AP Top-25 team and its sixth win over the last nine contests overall.
The Alabama defense held the Sooners to its second-lowest point total of the season, while limiting OU’s freshman guard Trae Young, who entered as the nation’s leading scorer, to 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field. It was the first time since the season opener that Young was held to under 20 points.
For the game, Alabama held Oklahoma to 40.8 percent shooting from the field (29-of-71) and just 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from beyond the arc. Alabama, which reached 80 points for the sixth time this season, shot a stellar 55.6 percent (30-of-54) from the floor and 42.1 percent (8-of-19) from deep.
Offensively, freshman Collin Sexton led Alabama with 18 points, while freshman Herbert Jones was the second leading scorer for the Tide with a season high of 14 points. Sophomore Braxton Key also put up double figures, scoring 11 points.
Furthermore, junior Donta Hall turned in a huge performance down low, blocking a career-high eight shots, which ties for fifth in program history for the most blocks recorded in a single game. Hall also led the team with seven rebounds while adding nine points, two assists and a steal.
“It was a good win for us today,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “I thought we played a little bit more of a mature basketball game today. We were focused for a long period of time. I thought our guys accepted the challenge of arguably one of the top players that’s played college basketball in the last several years. There’s no magic formula in what we did. Normally during the course of a game, we probably mix up our defenses about three or four times. Today, we gave him (Trae Young) about seven different looks. Six of them were successful. He (Trae Young) had a stretch where he got on a roll with 12 points and we couldn’t contain him, and then we changed up again.
“Overall great team effort. Daniel Giddens helped us in stretches and Avery Johnson Jr. helped us in stretches. John Petty got us off to a great start and Herbert Jones was great on both ends of the floor. Braxton Key got hot in the second half and Collin Sexton was a stud there when we trying to make Trae Young play some defense. I can keep going on and on because it was a great effort for us.”
After taking the 41-35 lead after the break, the Crimson Tide (14-7) held the Sooners (15-5) to just 42.9 percent shooting from the field (15-of-35) and 28.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the second half to solidify the game.
Despite the game seeing 10 lead changes, Alabama’s bench provided the spark to win the Big 12/SEC Challenge, outscoring OU’s bench, 25-3.
After trading baskets to start the second half, Oklahoma hit four straight field goals, and six of its first seven shots, to take a 50-49 lead after a layup at the 15:56 mark.
The Sooners extended their lead to 57-53 with 11:49 on the clock, and took its largest lead, 60-55, following a made three pointer by Trae Young with 11:12 left to play. However, the Tide responded with a 13-0 game-changing run over the next 4:48, highlighted by a dunk by Jones and a pair of threes from Key to give Alabam a 65-60 lead with 7:50 left to play.
The Crimson Tide built its lead back up to double digits, 77-67, after two made free throws by Key with 2:59 to go, and fended off the rest of the Sooners’ attacks to ice the game
Oklahoma’s Khadeem Lattin led the team with 18 points while Trae Young added 17 points, eight assists and three rebounds.
Alabama’s sellout crowd was the third consecutive full house. The noise level in Coleman Coliseum, which was a ”white out” on Saturday, was something that coach Johnson said helped the team.
“I can’t say enough about our crowd today,” Johnson said. “I’ve been a part of some NBA Finals and playoff series in a lot of different series, but the crowd I witnessed today, and this is not me blowing smoke because we won the game, I would have told you this had we lost. The crowd we witnessed today in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for an Alabama basketball game, was magical. I’m honored to be the coach and I’m to be a part of it with all the people that we’ve built relationships with, we just can’t say thank you enough.”
Alabama returns to conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 31 when it hosts the Missouri Tigers at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN 2.