According to a new NCAA standard, Alabama basketball beat a good mid-major on Monday and certainly won against one of the best players in college basketball.
Alabama basketball continued its resume building on Monday with a win over Murray State. The Crimson Tide prevailed 78-72, overcoming a 38-point performance by the Racers’ Ja Morant. One estimate said over 40 NBA scouts were in Tuscaloosa Monday night.
The scouts were checking out a few Alabama basketball players, but Morant was the reason for the big NBA presence. Morant delivered above expectations. His only flaws were missing all four three-point shots and making 10 turnovers. But he shot 55 percent for the game, pulled down nine rebounds, shot 75 percent at the charity stripe and dished out five assists.
What did the Crimson Tide players think of Morant’s skills? John Petty said,
Nine times out of 10, you see guys on film and when they come in the building, they’re not the same. He’s exactly what we saw on film — a great player.
Following one impressive drive and dunk, most of the Alabama basketball crowd gave Morant a standing ovation. Morant’s outstanding game would have done the Tide in, if not for the second-half performance of Kira Lewis Jr. Lewis scored 17 of his team-leading 20 points after halftime.
Avery Johnson was not pleased the Tide gifted Murray State with 21 turnovers. Free-throw shooting was a difference maker for Alabama basketball. Getting to the line for 30 attempts, the Tide converted 23.
How good is Murray State?
The season is young and rating teams too early is flawed. The NCAA has replaced the RPI calculation with a new metric this season. It is called the NCAA Evaluation Tool or NET for short. In the recently released first NET ranking, Murray State is No. 41 in Division 1. Alabama basketball is No. 130.
The new rankings system appears to need some tweaking. Consider two future, Crimson Tide opponents – Kentucky is ranked at No. 61 and Liberty is ranked at No. 60. Is that real or statistical noise? It is too early to know.
Based on the first NET rankings, Alabama basketball will play 18-of-25 games (before the SEC Tournament) against Top 100 teams. Of course, the rankings will change dramatically as the season progresses. The good news for Avery Johnson is the Alabama Crimson Tide should get plenty of opportunities to prove its NCAA Tourney worth.
Alabama basketball has another resume-building opportunity on Thursday. The Tide goes on the road to play UCF, currently ranked at No. 49.