Alabama knew it would have its hands full with undefeated South Carolina strolling into Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, but few could have predicted what actually transpired.
The Tide outscored the Gamecocks by double digits in each half and won with ease, 73-50, as Alabama forward Riley Norris finished with a game-high 27 points. Norris did almost all of his damage from the perimeter, hitting eight three-pointers and shooting 9-of-16 from the floor.
“It was a great night,” Norris said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “You got to give all my teammates credit. They really penetrated and got me open. I just had to knock down the shot.”
More often than not, he did. Norris hit his first seven threes and finished 8-of-11 from distance.
“It was one to remember,” he said. “Best college game I’ve had so far in the past two years at Alabama, but I’m just glad we got a big win tonight.”
South Carolina entered the game 15-0 but shot just 35.8 percent from the field and a woeful 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from three. Alabama (10-5) finished with more rebounds, more assists and more steals.
“We knew coming into the game that South Carolina was really well-coached and played really, really hard,” Norris said. “So we had to bring energy tonight.”
The win gave Avery Johnson his first SEC win at Alabama. The Tide had lost back-to-back games to Ole Miss and Kentucky.
“I know it meant a lot (for him to get the win),” Norris said. “Coach Johnson is a really great person and a really great coach. I knew getting that big win for him was really meaningful, especially coming in against an undefeated team like South Carolina and the background they’ve had this year. So I know he’s really proud.”
All in all, it’s been a pretty good sports week for the Crimson Tide. The football team won its fourth national title in seven years on Monday, and the basketball team knocked off an undefeated league rival.
“It was crazy,” Norris said. “Just going into warmups, the atmosphere was outstanding. When you make a shot, (the fans) went wild, so you got to give them all the credit. That was outstanding. You really can’t put it into words. We had a really great, intense practice yesterday, and all the veterans knew that (South Carolina plays) with grit. They play really hard and really tough. We just had to bring our best game tonight.”