Depth and Defense Continues to Separate Alabama from SEC
No. 3 Alabama’s 97-69 thrashing of Florida on Wednesday night in Coleman Coliseum continued their steady play since losing to Oklahoma.
The win also improved the Crimson Tide to 11-0 in conference play this season, and it sits alone atop the SEC standings heading into Saturday’s game at Auburn.
What makes Alabama so dominant in conference play? For starters, it’s hard to score on them. Alabama hasn’t allowed over 70 points to an SEC opponent in the 11 games tit has played this season, with opponents averaging just 62.8 points per game in that span.
Limiting opponents’ points per game means stopping the team’s best players. On Wednesday night, Alabama was tasked with stopping Colin Castleton, the star forward for the Gators.
Castleton finished the game with 29 points, but shot 9-18 and 11-14 from the free throw line and had to work for everything all night down low in the paint. Will Richard, the Gators' best three-point shooter, had just 11 points on 3-9 shooting. The Gators were also held to just four three-pointers in the game (4-14).
Not only is Alabama finding good defense in its starting five, but it is also finding defense from way down its bench as well. Nick Pringle brought the energy in 12 minutes of action Wednesday night, playing solid defense on Castleton while tallying two blocks and three steals as well.
Nimari Burnett, while not having the best night offensively (3 points, 1-6 shooting), still made his usual impact on the court on the defensive end. Even when some of the team’s top contributors off the pine aren’t having a solid night scoring, they continue to find other areas to make an impact.
Alabama’s bench only had 29 points in the win over Florida, 11 of those coming from Jahvon Quinerly. However, the bench maintained the energy and intensity just like any other game.
It may not pop off the stat sheet, but these things matter as the season progresses and we inch closer and closer to March.