Alabama Basketball's 'Beetle' Leads Battle Win Over Southern Miss, 83-68

Alabama Athletics

Joey Blackwell

Alabama basketball closed out its time in the Bahamas with a 83-68 victory over Southern Miss on Friday night, finishing the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in seventh place.

Graduate-student guard James "Beetle" Bolden propelled the Crimson Tide to victory, leading the team with 23 points and going 6-for-8 from 3-point land.

“I thought our energy was really good out of the gate, which was good," Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said in a release. "I told these guys to make a character game and play as hard as you can. I thought it was a great start, we finished 5-of-5 at the rim in the first five minutes of the game then we went 0-for-1 over the next 15 minutes. I just didn’t think we would get the ball in the paint enough and settled for too many threes. Maybe our legs got a little tired, but we started to drag the ball back into the paint during the second half and I thought we did a better job with that. The threes started to drop a little later. 

"I thought overall our defense was a lot better tonight than previously, especially last night. Rebounding-wise we were even on the glass and I was hoping to win the rebounding battle but we have some guys who are banged up and who have some injuries but I was proud of them.”

After losing back-to-back games in the tournament to No. 6 North Carolina and Iowa State, Alabama faced off against Southern Miss trying to salvage a win on the trip. 

Alabama jumped out early with a 16-0 run, powered by two 3-pointers by Bolden. The Crimson Tide maintained the momentum until the midway point of the first half when the Golden Eagles went on a 9-0 run, cutting the Alabama lead to just nine points.

Another six-point run by Southern Miss brought the Golden Eagles within five, and the first half ended with all of the momentum being on Southern Miss' side of the court. Alabama still led 38-35, but the Golden Eagles had the momentum advantage.

The second half started as a back-and-forth affair, but a 9-0 run by Alabama at the halfway point propelled the Crimson Tide out front, and Southern Miss was unable to retaliate. Alabama left Imperial Arena with the 83-68 win.

The Crimson Tide shot 46 percent (15-of-33) from 3-point range, its most since hitting 16 against Alabama A&M on Nov. 17, 2017.

Alabama also shot 72.7 percent from the field in the second half, making 16-of-22 field goals, while also connecting on 45.5 percent (5-of-11) of its 3-point attempts after the intermission.

With the win, Alabama improved to 3-4. Southern Miss is 2-6.

Along with Bolden's dynamic performance, sophomore guard Kira Lewis, Jr., had a 20-point game. 

Junior guard John Petty, Jr., led the team in rebounds with eight to go with 10 points. He reached double-digits in scoring in all three tournament games. 

For Southern Miss, Gabe Watson led the team in points with 19, going 8-for-13 from the floor and a perfect 3-for-3 from the free-throw line.

The Crimson Tide improved on several recurring mistakes that have been issues for the team since the start of the season. In turnovers, Alabama drastically reduced its number to 14. The Crimson Tide also took advantage of poor ball-handling by the Golden Eagles, resulting in 24 points off of Southern Miss turnovers.

Alabama head coach Nate Oats has consistently reiterated that the Crimson Tide is a fast-break offense, and his coaching methods highly rely on the team's success in fast-break points. In the matchup against Southern Miss, Alabama registered 18 fast-break points opposed to just six for the Golden Eagles.

Alabama will enjoy a week off before hosting Stephen F. Austin next Friday. The Lumberjacks are riding high after upsetting No. 1 Duke on the road on Tuesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT (SEC Network+).

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