By Stan J. Griffin: December 28, 2016
THE SCORE: Alabama 81, Florida A&M 46, as Kristy Curry's team finishes the non-conference slate in convincing fashion Wednesday night. Alabama jumped to an early 13-3 start in the contest behind the play of sophomore Shaq Wade and junior Meo Knight among others and led 21-11 after one period. With the Tide only up 21-16 in the second quarter, Alabama scored 12 of the next 14 points to extend its lead to 33-18, and the score at halftime was 35-23.
The Tide held a narrow 44-36 advantage in the third quarter before the play of Wade and junior Ashley Williams propelled a 27-2 Tide run that swelled the lead to 71-38 with just over five minutes left in the game. The Tide coasted from that point as 11 players saw action for Curry's team on Wednesday.
SITE: Coleman Coliseum, Attendance: 2,213
RECORDS: Alabama 12-1 (the Tide's best start heading into conference play since 2000-01), Florida A&M 1-11
KEY STARS FOR THE TIDE: Knight and Wade led a balanced attack for the Crimson Tide with 16 points each, with freshmen Ashley Knight and Jordan Lewis adding 12 and 11 points respectively. Junior Hannah Cook added nine. Wade led the Tide with 10 boards while Cook added eight. Lewis and Cook added a team-high four assists each and Lewis also had three steals. Ashley Knight led UA with five blocks.
GOOD NUMBERS: Alabama out-rebounded the Rattlers 48-36 and forced 24 turnovers by the visitors. The Tide outscored Florida A&M in the paint 40-12, 23-11 off turnovers and 12-2 in fast break points. Alabama had seven blocks and 14 steals. Alabama had nine players get into the scoring column on Wednesday. UA hit over 73 percent of its shots (11 of 15) in the final period. The Tide held the Rattlers to 26 percent shooting for the game.
NOT SO GOOD NUMBERS: The Crimson Tide committed 19 turnovers and were outscored 26-22 in bench points. The Tide hit only four of its 14 attempts from 3-point range. Alabama hit only three of its 14 field goal attempts in the second quarter.
COACH SPEAK: "It was physical and (the Rattlers) are a high-energy team, and I thought our kids just kind of stayed the course," said Curry. "We gave up 11 points the first five minutes of the third quarter, which we know we've got to improve on, but from that immediate point on, I think we took control there through the third quarter and just stayed together and stayed positive and were able to get some critical stops and really get some big baskets on offense. It's good to see our kids just kind of weather the storm and to end up going from (being up by 12) at the half to the end result. It's pleasing to see from our balance."
"I have to just say that one thing about this group, is just the effort, and their demeanor everyday," Curry added. "They're fun to coach and fun to be around. I think that that's pleasant and I think they feed off each other with that demeanor. I certainly know that every single one of them are committed to trying to do everything they can to get the next game. It's hard to coach effort and it's hard to coach want-to, and this group, that's something you don't have to worry about."
PLAYER SPEAK: "(After the Rattlers cut the Tide lead to eight in the third), we just kind of had to get back to our game, and we had to stay poised, and not get caught up because it was such a fast-paced game, and just relaxed," said Meo Knight.
NEXT UP FOR THE TIDE: Curry's squad opens Southeastern Conference play on Sunday at No. 6/6 South Carolina. Tip is slated for 1 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
Special thanks: Alabama Athletics Communications