- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Shannon Hale hit 3 of 5 from 3-point range and finished with 19 points and Alabama beat Ball State 77-59 on Friday night.

“I thought his body language was good,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “…What more can I say. That Shannon Hale is the one I consistently want to see.”

After coming off the bench to score 13 in the first half, Hale was inserted into the starting lineup for the second in place Bola Olaniyan. Reserves Ar’Mond Davis and Avery Johnson Jr. combined to score 30 for the Crimson Tide (2-1), with 17 and 13 points, respectively, to help Alabama’s bench to match the Cardinals in scoring.

Davis made 5-of-7 3-pointers and Johnson Jr. made 3-of-3 while adding six assists and five rebounds.

Johnson Jr. said his teammates were instrumental in his success, but he also said breaking from routine and taking a nap before the pre-game meal helped to settle his nerves.

“I just kind of told myself yesterday, I’m not going to wait until like my fifth or my last year to turn it up,” Johnson Jr. said. “So I thought this was going to be a good opportunity so once I got there I did some different things in my pregame.”

It was close for much of the first half and scoreless for the first 4-plus minutes. Hale’s dunk with 15:20 left in the half was the first made field goal and gave Alabama a 4-0 lead. Alabama’s offense picked up from there until it cooled off late in the second half when the team failed to make a shot from the field for nearly 7 ½ minutes.

Despite those struggles, the Cardinals (1-2) were unable to take advantage. Tayler Persons led Ball State with 15 points. Franko House, who came in averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds, finished with 10 points and seven boards.

Johnson credited Wednesday’s practice with the success of the bench. With three starters missing that day others had to step up.

“Shannon and Avery and Ar’Mond they practically are on the same team every practice so they are getting in a good rhythm of knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Johnson said.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: The Crimson Tide bounced back from Tuesday’s 77-72 loss to Dayton to avoid falling below .500.

Ball State: The Cardinals held their first two opponents to exactly 64 points in regulation, but the team didn’t have an answer for Alabama’s offense once it got going.

NEXT UP

Alabama: The Crimson Tide will leave the confines of Coleman Coliseum for the first time this season to face Valparaiso in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ball State: The Cardinals will return home to face Coppin State for the chance to claim the team’s first home victory of the season on Monday.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: Ball State committed 21 turnovers - 10 more than the Tide. Alabama finished the game with 14 steals and outscored the Cardinals 26-6 on points off turnovers.

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