No. 24 Alabama only a bit short-handed for La. Tech (Nov 29, 2017)

BY AP • November 29, 2017

Alabama is undefeated -- when the Crimson Tide have five players on the court for the entire game.

That wasn't the case in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. Alabama finished with only three players on the court, after 10 were ejected for leaving the bench midway through the second half, another player fouled out and another went down with an ankle injury.

Freshman guard Collin Sexton, one of the three Alabama players left to finish the game, scored 40 points and put a late scare into the Gophers, but the Crimson Tide ultimately came up short in an 89-84 loss.

"It was a great learning lesson for us," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said of the skirmish against Minnesota that led to the mass ejections.

Alabama (5-1) hopes to bounce back and keep a full five players on the floor Wednesday, when it hosts unbeaten Louisiana Tech (5-0).

While Johnson expects to have ample bench help, Wednesday, the No. 24 Crimson Tide will not be at full strength. Sophomore forward Braxton Key, who led Alabama in scoring last season, remains out, recovering from knee surgery. He could return to non-contact practice soon, Johnson said.

Freshman guard John Petty, the Crimson Tide's second-leading scorer this season, is considered a game-time decision with an ankle injury suffered against Minnesota.

"It just didn't look good," Johnson said about Petty's injury. "And when we looked at it after the game, it really looked bad. So, fortunately, we think he's going to be OK and there's not any serious long-term effects to his game or him physically."

If Petty can't go, Alabama will rely on Sexton again to provide the bulk of the scoring, something he's clearly capable of handling. His 40 points against Minnesota were the most scored by an Alabama freshman.

He's leading the SEC in scoring, averaging 25.2 points per game, and was named the SEC Freshman of the Week.

The Bulldogs are coming off a thrilling 63-61 victory over Evansville on Nov. 22. Derric Jean hit a 3-pointer with one second remaining to lift Louisiana Tech past the Purple Aces in the Cancun Challenge.

"We were down seven with five minutes to go against a very, very good team," Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol said after the win. "But we really came together and supported each other, making some really key plays. It says a whole lot about these guys. I am very proud of them."

Wednesday's game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., will be by far the Bulldogs' toughest test this season. Konkol's team has not played a Power 5 conference team in its perfect start.

Sophomore guard Jalen Harris leads four Bulldogs averaging double figures at 17.0 points per game.

For the Crimson Tide, Wednesday's game marks the first of three straight at home. Alabama will face Central Florida and Rhode Island, before a challenging trip to Arizona on Dec. 9.



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