OTTAWA, Canada The Alabama men’s basketball team defeated the University of Ottawa, 81-71, on Thursday night in the final contest of the Crimson Tide’s 2017 Canadian Tour. Six players scored in double figures to lead a balanced attack for Alabama, which finished the trip with a 2-1 record.
Sophomore Avery Johnson Jr., who started in place of Collin Sexton, led the Tide with 15 points and four assists. Senior Riley Norris added 13 points – all coming over the final 20 minutes of play. Sophomore Braxton Key added 12 points and a team-high nine boards, while freshman John Petty and junior Donta Hall each collected 11 points and eight boards. Senior Ar’Mond Davis also hit double digits with points to go along with seven boards off the bench.
“For a team that’s just played three games in four nights, I thought we gave an outstanding effort, especially in the second half” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “We were able to get our defense set, guys made the extra pass and we did a great job on the boards. Thankfully, we were able to close it out.
“We wanted to take a look at different rotations because we had a lot of different guys playing tonight. We have a lot of young players and they all got their share of minutes. We looked at a lot of different combinations and I like the different combinations we can utilize this year – we can go big, we can go small or we can spread the floor. We had a chance to look at multiple defenses, so from a video standpoint, we’ve got a lot that we are able to analyze.”
The Tide got off to a slow start, trailing by as many as seven points, 13-6, over the opening 3:14 of play. The Gee-Gee’s would go on to lead by a score of 23-18 after the first quarter. Alabama responded in the second quarter. The Tide went on a 12-4 run early in the period to gain its first lead of the game at 30-27, forcing an Ottawa timeout. Alabama would go on to outscore Ottawa, 22-11, in the stanza to take a 40-34 lead into the locker room. It was a lead the Tide would not relinquish the rest of the game
After the Gee-Gee’s trimmed the lead to just one point, 46-45, with 6:37 remaining in the third quarter, the Tide scored seven of the game’s next eight points to stretch its lead to 53-47. Alabama would go on to hold a 58-53 lead after three periods of play.
Alabama continued to play well in the fourth quarter. After Ottawa cut the lead to 59-55 with 9:02 left to play, the Tide scored eight straight points over the next 1:58 to pull ahead by 12. From there, Alabama cruised to its second double-digit victory of the tour.
The Tide controlled the paint, owning a 54-43 edge on the glass and a 32-16 advantage in the paint. Alabama’s bench also stepped up in the absence of Sexton, Dazon Ingram and Herb Jones, who did not play, outscoring the Ottawa reserves convincingly, 34-9.
“The main thing we wanted when we decided to come to Canada was to play,” Johnson said. “We thought this would be the best competition we could face. We’ve had two really tough games and that’s what we wanted, especially given the fact that we have some of our key guys banged up. We didn’t want to go somewhere where we would win 105-5 or something like that. We wanted to have somewhat of a real game, and that’s what we accomplished on this trip.”