TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After consecutive losses to Duke and Drexel in Madison Square Garden over the weekend, Alabama returned home on Wednesday to a nice, comfy opponent to cheer up against, beating the North Florida Ospreys 76-48.
The now 4-3 Crimson Tide never trailed against the Ospreys and actually made their three-point baskets tonight, shooting 9-for-19. Against a team like North Florida, Alabama’s drilled disciplines of defense, rebounding and hustle were reinforced, while having the ability to not agonize about the final score.
“I thought it was a great team win,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought our team brought good energy tonight.
“I thought they played the way that we talked about we needed to play.”
Alabama forward Jimmie Taylor had a near double-double with 12 points—a career high for the freshman—along with nine rebounds and one block. Taylor attributed his success during the game to following Coach Grant’s advice.
“I just did what coach told me to do,” Taylor said. “I just give coach the credit for having confidence in me to go out there and play and I credit my teammates also for having faith in me.”
Alabama guard Levi Randolph had a career-high 20 points and led all scorers on Wednesday night. Randolph went 3-for-6 from three-point range and said that Grant tells his players to look for and take open shots when the opportunities arise.
“We’ve just been talking in practice and coach has been preaching that when we had open shots, to take them and don’t turn them down,” Randolph said. “My teammates were able to find me and I just tried to do what coach asked me and take the open shot.”
The official announced attendance said 9,398, but that number is incredibly exaggerated. There are no more football games left to be played in Tuscaloosa, and the women’s basketball team—who had a game tonight, as well—didn’t draw too large of a crowd.
So, where was everyone?
North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll even noticed the lack of support for the hometown team, and he would know. North Florida has already lost at Ohio State and Florida this season, and will play at Indiana and Michigan State later in the season. The Ospreys are quickly becoming experts on raucous arenas filled with noisy people and great basketball teams. Driscoll said that he expected a hostile crowd like one of those basketball powers when playing at a school like Alabama.
“I thought it would be a much different environment,” Driscoll said. “I thought there would be more people here. It was disappointing.”
Grant said that he is too focused on the game at hand to notice the crowd, or lack thereof.
“I’m so locked into the game, when I walk onto the court that’s the only time I notice,” Grant said. “I’m about our team and trying to prepare our team to do what we need to do on the court.”
Big crowd or not, Alabama could have started their entire bench and beaten North Florida by 20. The Crimson Tide continue their march to play all of the directional Floridian schools and will play South Florida on Saturday.