Alabama Basketball Wins Exhibition

The Alabama men's basketball team had to have its hustling shoes on to beat a scrappy Talladega College team in an exhibition game in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday. The Crimson Tide not only hustled with the visiting Tornados, but out-rebounded and out-shot Talladega.

Alabama began the second year of play under Coach Anthony Grant with a 96-60 victory.

Pre-season All-Southeastern Conference junior forward JaMychal Green had 16 points, but only five rebounds (and only one rebound in the second half). Green also had four of Bama's 12 blocked shots. Talladega had one blocked shot on the night.

Senior wing Senario Hillman was electric offensively and defensively. His first half steals ignited a big Tide run and he had assists that led to dramatic baskets by Green and sophomore wing Tony Mitchell. Hillman finished with 15 points, four assists, and three steals. Mitchell had 12 points and eight rebounds. The other returning starter from last season, senior post player Chris Hines, was scoreless in the first half and finished with five points and eight rebounds. Bama had a 53-35 advantage on the boards.

Joining the four returning starters in the opening lineup was freshman point guard Trevor Releford, who had a solid first college game. He had a team-high 17 points with seven assists and only one turnover and also had two steals in 20 minutes of play.

The tallest man ever to play basketball for Alabama, 7-1 freshman Carl Engstrom, was, as expected, a big crowd favorite and he had some nice plays. Engstrom, a native of Sweden who has played basketball only two years before this season, also had moments when his inexperience showed. He finished with six points and six rebounds. (Engstrom was matched much of the night against Talladega's Brandon Baker, a seven-footer from Opelika who did not score.)

Other newcomers for Bama were guard Charles Hankerson, who had nine points and six rebounds, and forwards Jason Carter and Kendall Durant. Carter had two points and four rebounds and Durant 10 points and four rebounds.

Other returning players seeing action were sophomore point guard Ben Eblen (four points, two assists, and three blocked shots) and walk-on senior forward Justin Luquire, who did not score. Senior guard Charvez Davis did not play because he is recuperating from surgery to repair a sports hernia and sophomore forward Andrew Steele was held out. He is coming back from a knee injury suffered last year.

Talladega was led by Kerry Harvis with 20 points, Tarium Taylor with 11, and Phil Wood and Donald Lucious with 10 each.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "I thought it was a very good contest for us. I think it was good for our team. (Talladega) came out with real purpose and really attacked us and we can take things from that and learn and improve. That's what we need to take from this game."

Although Alabama had a sizeable halftime lead, the Tide ran away with the game in the second half. Bama held Talladega to only 25 per cent field goal shooting in the second half while the Tide hit 51.4 per cent in the second half and finished at 50 per cent for the game.

Bama scored 60 points in the paint to 22 for Talladega. Bama scored 17 second chance points, Talladega only four. The Tide had 14 steals, Talladega four.

There were two disappointments for the Tide. Bama hit only 2-11 on three-point shots and had 19 turnovers.

Alabama had an early 12-6 lead, but Talladega hit a three-point hot streak and went from a 14-14 tie to a 24-19 lead. Bama worked it to a 26-26 tie with 8:02 remaining in the first half, and then Senario Hillman and JaMychal Green had back-to-back steals that led to baskets -- a layup and free throw by Hillman and a dunk by Tony Mitchell on an assist from Hillman. When Talladega scored its next basket with 4:44 to play, the Tide had expanded its lead to 41-28. Talladega got a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to make it Alabama 46, Talladega 35 at intermission.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama forward JaMychal Green has changed number. After wearing 32 (his high school number) his first two years at Alabama, he was wearing 1 in Bama's exhibition game against Talladega. Talladega is coached by William Brown, who was Green's prep coach at St. Jude in Montgomery. Talladega, an NAIA school, has won the past two national championships in USCAA play. Alabama is back in action in a second and final exhibition game Monday, hosting Alabama-Huntsville in Coleman Coliseum at 7 p.m. CDT. Bama's first regular season game is Wednesday, November 12, when Florida A&M visits for a 7:30 .m. game.

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