The Crimson Tide came crashing into Kingston Friday night only to meet the duo of Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell, acting as a seawall for Head Coach David Cox.
This was a game that saw a masterclass in guard play, with the likes of Kira Lewis Jr on the Crimson Tide, and the aforementioned upperclassmen Dowtin and Russell leading the way for the Rams.
“Outstanding win for the program,” said Cox. “Outstanding win for the conference. I give a lot of credit to Alabama for coming here and playing in this environment.”
While “double-double machine” Cyril Langevine was relatively quiet on the night, he showed flashes of passing from the five spot that he had not yet shown in a Rhode Island uniform. Langevine finished the game with six assists, a career high. He also totaled 12 points and five rebounds to go along with it.
The Rams were subject to shooting slumps again in this one, but the way they handled the slump is more telling than the lack of scoring at points. Missing jumpers is a part of the game of basketball, but refusing to quit defensively is where URI showed their metal and toughness in the face of the Tide. Rhody at one point in the second half went on a 2-11 slump from the field, that allowed Alabama to creep in within single digits. But calmed by the presence of Dowtin controlling the offense, URI continued to pound away at the Tide defense and trust their offense.
Rhody’s offense operated as efficiently as they have in recent memory, with the Rams shooting 33-63 from the floor for a percentage of 52 percent. URI also went 6-16 from beyond the arc to shoot a percentage of 38 from three point land.
Dowtin was the star of the evening in front of multiple NBA scouts including representatives from teams such as the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. He finished with 21 points on a scorching hot 9-11 from the field in 37 minutes of game action. Fatts Russell lead all scorers with a game high 22 points, coupled with five rebounds and five assists.
“When you got guards like these two [Russell and Dowtin] right here, I’ll play these two against anyone in the country,” said Cox. “I truly trust them. The execution I thought was at a really high level.”
On the other hand, Lewis Jr. for the Tide came every bit as advertised. The pre-season first team all SEC honoree poured home 21 points on 8-13 shooting with five rebounds and four assists.
The Rhode Island perimeter defense was key in this game for the Rams, as they held a strong shooting team in the Tide to only a combined 5-22 from three, to shoot 23 percent. The constant houding effort as well for the Rams allowed them to force 22 turnovers, while only turning the ball over 12 times themselves. The turnover battle was massive for the Rams, with URI outscoring Alabama 33-18 in points off of turnovers.
This was a Rhode Island team that was night and day from the team that took the court in College Park less than a week ago. The Rams stuck to their gameplan both offensively and defensively and in the face of adversity ran away with this one.
“I thought the Maryland game prepared us for this particular game,” said Cox. “We were battle tested, played physical, stuck to the game plan and came out with a great win.”