BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — John Petty buried his first 3-pointer just 15 seconds into the game, and many more after that.
Petty wound up making 10 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 39 points in Alabama’s 105-87 victory over Samford on Wednesday night at Legacy Arena. It's a venue where Petty had plenty of success in high school, winning three straight state titles.
“I just think it was the shots that I was taking," said Petty, who also won the state tournament MVP honors three times. “They were wide open. My teammates did a great job getting in the paint, making the extra pass.
“Also I played in this gym numerous times back to back to back. I've got a pretty good feel for the rims and for the court, so it wasn't anything new to me."
Petty missed only three of his 13 3-point attempts and the Crimson Tide (5-5) raced to a 25-point lead late in the first half.
His previous career best was 34 points against Iowa State just over a year ago. Petty also had 10 rebounds against the Bulldogs (6-7).
“When he’s hot, you’re in trouble," Samford coach Scott Padgett said. “When he’s not, he might help you out. Tonight was definitely a hot night."
Alex Reese had 16 points and made four 3s for the Tide, while Jaden Shackelford scored 13 and Kira Lewis Jr. added 11.
Josh Sharkey had 18 points and 15 assists for Samford, which is located about an hour from Tuscaloosa and not far from the downtown arena. Sharkey came in ranked second nationally with 9.1 assists per game.
Brandon Austin, a onetime Alabama signee, scored 21 points against his former team. Robert Allen had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Jalen Dupree scored 16.
“I think the first three 3s that they hit, there was probably nobody in the area", Padgett said. “And it made them feel good. And all of a sudden, that rim looks bigger."
The Tide had blown a nine-point lead down the stretch in its last game, a 73-71 loss to Penn State. This time, Samford only managed to make it competitive for awhile after trailing 57-37 at halftime.
Allen’s 3-pointer cut Alabama’s lead to 83-77 in the final 10 minutes. The Bulldogs couldn’t get any closer, though.
“They really fought back and made it an interesting game," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “We didn’t handle the pressure very well. I thought our defense kind of slacked off.
“It’s a little bit of human nature. When the offense came as easy as it did in the first half, guys have a tendency to not play as hard as they need to."
Alabama: Leads the series 30-3. Scored the game’s first 13 points and made its initial six 3-point attempts. Went 17 of 34 from 3-point range.
Samford: Played two days after returning from a 94-73 loss at Hawaii and got off to a terrible start.
AUSTIN VS. ALABAMA
Austin enjoyed a big game against his former team. He spent two seasons with the Tide, but missed most of his sophomore season with a back injury.
“Ït was real special,” the senior said. “That was the school I started out. Hey, I’ve still got love for the school.”
Alabama made 22 of 26 free throws, with Petty making all eight of his attempts. Samford didn't go to the foul line as often but also shot a high percentage, making 12 of 14.
Alabama plays Belmont Saturday in Huntsville, Alabama.
Samford visits Georgetown on Saturday.
For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25