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‘Bama Rudely Welcomes Bryan Hodgson, Bounces Back To Bomb Arkansas State, 89-65

Tide welcomed back former assistant Bryan Hodgson back to Coleman Coliseum on Monday night

Emerald Coast Classic - Alabama v Ohio State
Jarin Stevenson scored 13 points on Monday night in the Crimson Tide victory
Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images


Bryan Hodgson was Coach Nate Oats’ right-hand man for his first eight years as a head coach — four at Buffalo, and the last four iin Tuscaloosa with the Alabama Crimson Tide. After last season, Hodgson got his shot: a much-deserved head coaching job at Arkansas State.

The former ‘Bama assistant brought his Red Wolves to Tuscaloosa on Monday night. And, while Oats and company were glad to see Hodgson, the Tide were rude hosts, and showed no mercy in notching a 89-65 victory. The Tide improved to 6-2 on the season, while ASU fell to 2-7.

Per Sagarin, this Red Wolves team is the worst one that Alabama will face all year. So the Tide was expected to romp, and duly did so. But after a Thanksgiving of shaky defense, when ‘Bama played awful defense to drop two of three, the Tide rebounded to show more intensity on that end of the floor tonight, even grading on a curve.

Tonight marked yet another game where Grant Nelson was unable to continue after being banged up, making it now a full third of the schedule where he has left the lineup. It may not yet be time to panic, but Alabama really needs Nelson in the lineup and available for both halves, particularly facing Bama’s season-defining stretch. It is a more efficient and less sloppy team when much of the offense can run through him.

MoWag was a better interior presence, but as we saw against Clemson, Arkansas State was still very effective in the post with hustle play — barely being out-rebounded by the Tide, and actually getting more offensive boards than ‘Bama. Alabama cannot continue to give teams second chances, not with the long, physical teams the Tide will face the next two weeks.

The turnovers in Grant’s absence were a concern too. Alabama was sloppy all night after he went to the bench. Still, it was a much improved effort over ‘Bama’s three-game Thanksgiving week stretch.


For the second consecutive game, Oats used the starting five of Mark Sears, Aaron Estrada, Rylan Griffen, Grant Nelson and Mohamed Wague. Nick Pringle, who started the six first games of the season for Bama, was not in the lineup; he is serving an indefinite suspension. After the game, however, Oats indicated that Pringle will be back in good graces sufficient to play in Saturday’s contest against Purdue.

The Red Wolves scored the first basket of the game, and that sad 2-0 score would be their only lead of the night. Sears and Nelson hit back to back three-point shots for a 6-2 lead after two minutes of play. A dunk from Nelson, and a three from Estrada, pushed it to 11-2, and the Tide was never really pushed the rest of the way.

Davin Cosby made good use of his added playing time, hitting a three and grabbing several first half rebounds. Griffen, Nelson, Latrell Wrightsell, Jr, Jarin Stevenson, and even little used Mouhamed Didubate added more three-pointers as Bama built a lead of 49-28 at the break.

For the half, the Tide shot 16-35 for 46%, but scorched the nets from deep, to the tune of 9-18 while making 8-10 free throws. The team had 21 rebounds, 11 assists, three blocks, seven steals, but a sloppy six turnovers in the half. Sears and Nelson both had 10 points at intermission, while Stevenson added seven and Estrada six. Cosby had five rebounds after the first 20 minutes.

Arkansas State was held to 10-28 for 36% and 4-15 for 27% from deep. The Wolves were 4-7 from the stripe, grabbed 19 rebounds, three blocks, three steals, six assists, and committed 12 turnovers. Taryn Todd scored 10 of the teams first half points.

Oats stayed with the starters in the second half, and the Tide pushed the lead out to 61-35 with 15:47 left in the game. Nelson had a highlight reel dunk, Stevenson had a three-point play the old fashioned way, and Wague knocked down some free throws to built the margin. Cosby’s good play carried over from the first half, and he nailed a couple of more three-point shots to stretch the Tide lead out, 71-40 with 11:28 left.

At that point, the only real questions were would the Tide reach 100 points again, and would they cover the 25-point spread. Both looked likely, yet neither happened.

Nelson left the game with a lower leg/possibly left knee injury after only playing 16 minutes, and about that same time Bama’s play became quite sloppy.

The Tide went scoreless for over four minutes without Nelson, committing turnovers while trying to overpass in the lane, and also missed several shots at or near the rim — something we saw all too often against Oregon, when ‘Bama shot 36% from the lane.

Arkansas State took advantage and was able to cut the final margin to 24 points, with some made free throws and strong offensive rebounds.

The Tide shot 12-29 for 41% in the second half and cooled down to 4-13 for 31% from three point range. Bama did hit 12-14 free throws.


Overall, the home team shot 28-64 for 44%, 13-31 for 42% from deep, and made 20-24 from the free throw line. ‘Bama grabbed 45 rebounds, had eight blocked shots, 10 steals, 17 assists, and 14 turnovers.

Sears and Stevenson led the scoring with 13 each. Sears added three rebounds, accounted for six assists, and only turned the ball over. Stevenson had one of his better nights with four rebounds to go with his points and hit 2-3 from three-point range. Wague had his best game in Crimson, netting 12 points, including 6-6 from the free throw line. He added seven rebounds, three blocked shots, four steals, and won the Hard Hat award for his play.

Nelson tallied 12 points with one rebound and a pair of blocks before his night ended prematurely. Estrada scored 11 with six rebounds before fouling out of the game. And Cosby’s night ended with nine points and five rebounds.

In the second half the Red Wolves shot 12-37 for 32%, 2-15 for 13% from three, and 11-14 at the free throw line. Overall ASU finished 22-65 for 34%, 6-30 for 20% from three and 15-21 for 74% at the stripe. The visitors had 40 rebounds, and won the offensive boards 15-12 over the Tide. Arkansas State also had seven blocks, five steals, 10 assists, and 15 turnovers. Todd finished with a game high 15 points.


It was good for the Tide to get back in the winning column after losing to Clemson in their last outing. As you would expect from an Oats assistant, tonight’s opponent from the Sunbelt are a tough, hard-nosed team, that play the game very similarly to the Tide.

Hodgson has taken a page out of Oats’s book by scheduling tough OOC games prior to conference play. The Wolves don't have the athletes to play with the Tide, but have a bunch of guys that get after it for a full 40 minutes.

Assistant coach Austin Claunch took over for Oats for the post game radio interview, and said that the team “focused hard on defense the last week, and will have to continue to this week as we prepare for Purdue on Saturday.” Claunch did say the team would rest tomorrow before getting ready for perhaps its tough test on Saturday. Claunch emphasized that the team needed to hit the boards and continue working on their defensive intensity.

Oats met with the print media, and said that Pringle would be dressed out and with the team this weekend after “figuring out what he needs to do to be a part of the team,” and added that Nelson had a little bang on his knee, but indicated he would be fine to play this weekend.

Next Up: Purdue in Toronto on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. C.T. The game will be available on FOX TV and on the radio with Crimson Tide Sports Marketing.

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