Alleman will have no trouble figuring out how it lost to Rock Island 56-37 Friday at the Don Morris Gym. The answer was simple. Too much Randy Tucker for Rock Island and too many turnovers for the Pioneers — especially in the first half.
Or put even simpler, too much of the Tuckers, period.
Alleman finished with 15 turnovers, but 10 occurred in the first half.
At the same time, Randy Tucker, who finished with 22 points, had 16 at halftime, with 12 of those points coming on the four 3-point baskets he made.
The Rocks outscored Alleman 19-7 in the second quarter for a 32-19 halftime lead. It was done with the aid of seven Pioneer turnovers. The Rock Island defense was plenty intense, and the offense fairly patient, finding the open man, who often enough was either Randy or Jayden Tucker.
“It started in practice with the second group going at us,” Randy Tucker said after the game. “We just played hard and kept it on them.”
The Rocks even survived a six-point third quarter, in which they somehow outscored Alleman by one in the noisy gym.
“Luckily, he (Randy Tucker) was hitting shots early,” said Rock Island coach Thom Sigel, “because we didn’t attack the zone real well.
“It came as a little bit of a surprise, but we settled down and moved the ball and started executing.”
Rock Island (9-7, 2-2 in the Western Big Six) also was greatly aided by Tucker’s brother, Jayden, who had seven points in the first half while playing excellent defense.
“I thought his brother, Jayden, did a great job defensively,” Sigel said. “He was guarding No. 1 (Saurabh Patwal) most of the night. I thought the team defense was good.”
Patwal finished with eight points. Alleman was led by Andrew Barrett’s nine points and seven rebounds.
Another key was the Rocks having just eight turnovers for the game, only three in the first half.
“I think it’s all about keeping your composure and not letting their pressure get to you,” Randy Tucker said. “And when you are at the free throw line, lock in on your free throws, and keep blocking out on defense so they don’t get second shots.”
Tucker apparently did lock in at the foul line, making all six of his attempts.
Rock Island also got 12 points and four rebounds from Ben Ellis.
But a big key had to be the defense, holding Alleman to 13 of 36 shooting from the field.
“I thought our guys were locked in,” said Sigel. “We keep talking about it. They were communicating better than we have a lot of times. We were making them take tough shots and limiting them to one. That was the huge part, though, holding them under 40 (points).”
Alleman (11-8, 1-4) did not exactly give coach Kyle Murray a happy birthday present.
“I don’t think it was their intensity,” Murray said of the Rocks. “Obviously, Tucker shot well in the first quarter. But to me, when we made mistakes, we tried to get those back too quickly, compounding our mistakes. That led to easy opportunities for Rocky.
“We’re definitely disappointed,” he added of the 37-point output. “We think we have the type of team where we can get multiple players scoring in double digits, and obviously that didn’t happen tonight.
“A lot of it was we just didn’t click like we do on offense. And you have to credit Rocky for taken away some of the things we wanted to do.”