Alabama was relentless with the trap, Oklahoma State showcased a lot of their version of it as well, and it all added up to a mostly ugly game with stretches of nice play. The good news is that this was basically a replica of the Virginia Tech game in pace, opponent style, and barf-ed-ness, but the Cowboys looked a hundred times better this time (which still isn't saying much, that VT game was that bad). The Pokes showed that they could actually handle this type of a game...which is something. Sure Alabama is raw and is lacking a consistent outside threat that their offense desperately needs, but they are very athletic, have good size, and posed a tough matchup... in all it was a good ugly win.
In the half-court, the Tide switched between a zone and a man-to-man but no matter which defense they were in, they always kept either #1 or #44 under the basket to double either Moses or a slasher. It seemed like there were a lot of opportunities for either Olukemi or Brown to slash and draw him out which would have left an easy pass to Moses (Penn was successful a few times with this), but penetrating that Bama perimeter D wasn't all that easy. There were a lot of long possessions and a lot of fouls so the offense was pretty slow to develop (especially early and late), and the quick hands and length of Bama definitely bothered the Cowboys.
More after the Jump, and be sure to check out Roll Bama Roll for the other side's take on things.
Some quick individual notes:
I think Keiton Page hit every truly open shot he took (which is nice), and his ability to get to the line late pretty much sealed the game. My main knock would be his issues getting it up the court. I saw in a post game interview that he knew he was too passive at attacking that trap until late in the game so this is kinda repetitive, but if he picked up his dribble in the backcourt one more time I would have officially lost it and taken it out on the older gentleman in front of me who was wearing an OU sweater and cheering for Alabama (in OU Fanbase's defense, the rest of the OU fans I saw were either just sitting there or cheering for OSU... the one a-hole just happened to be sitting right in front of me).
Marshall Moses didn't put up the statline that we have been seeing from him, but he had a solid game. On the defensive end it looked like he has learned a few things from Darrell Williams as he was executing that guard trap really well (as was Pilgrim). And early JaMychal Green posted him up and backed him in for two easy scores, then Moses flipped on his "Aw hell no you aren't backing me under the basket again" switch and held his ground in the post for the rest of the game. On the offensive side he was being doubled every time he touched the ball, and the Pokes weren't doing a great job of springing open for him. Usually a guard was dropping down to double him and for whatever reason the only open Cowboy was the guard on the opposite side of the court. If they can start figuring out how to exploit those Moses double teams this offense will average 80 a game.
Speaking of Ray Penn, he again showed why he HAS to be on the court against these trapping and pressure defense teams. He navigates through defenders and finds the open man better than anyone on the team and finished this one with 7 assists. Sometimes he is a little to happy to shoot and throws up a few wild ones, but I'll take it for the tradeoff of him becoming a fairly consistent three point threat.
Darrell Williams remains a mystery on the offensive end. He does everything right except finish. He has some nice handles for his size, decent post moves, etc... but he has so little confidence in his shot. He had three blocked because he was so deliberate in going up, and at least 2 that I can remember where he made a great move to get to the rim then just blows the easy shot... one time not even drawing iron. He brings so much to the court with his ball handling, defense, rebounding (which is outstanding btw... he constantly seems to be in great rebounding position), and all around hustle, but if he can't finish his minutes will probably keep going down.
This was my first time to see the Markel Brown jumpshot in person and WOW... that thing is WET! On his three point jump shots I swear his release point is ten-and-a-half feet off the ground. He uses those legs and elevates like very few shooters I have ever seen. With that form he should be able to shoot over about anyone. He was injured a couple of times in this one (once on an elbow to the ribs, and another time hitting his head on the floor going for a loose ball) so he only saw 13 minutes of action. So he didn't impact the game that much, but I had to comment on his jump shot.... we need to name that thing.