No Three-Pointers Not A Problem
"We only took three (treys) in the game," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant. "That's even more impressive, to get a 10-point win in this league (without making a three-pointer). It shows what kind of defense they played."
"We're really not a good three-point shooting team, " admitted sophomore forward Tony Mitchell. "We try to go to the basket, draw fouls and get points on the board, and not just by shooting threes."
In Bama's first win of SEC play this year, a 75-57 victory over Mississippi State in Starkville last week, the Tide made just one three-point shot.
Said Carolina Coach Darrin Horn: "It's an emphasis for us in general with our defense. We noticed in the stats that when (Charvez) Davis made threes, it opens up things inside. We really felt like we needed to shut them down on the perimeter, and we did a good job of that."
The Gamecocks weren't stellar behind the stripe, but the six they made in 18 tries kept them in the game until the last three minutes.
Meanwhile, South Carolina starts three freshmen. None are used to the road grind that comes with playing in the Southeastern Conference. That could explain why the visitors shot 28.6 per cent from the floor. "It starts on the defensive end, and it was an outstanding effort in both halves," said Grant. "In the second half, we were able to have a little more success on the offensive end. We had to rebound the ball, and make sure we took care of the ball in transition."
Green's defense on 6-foot-9, 230-pound center Sam Muldrow of Carolina was a key. Muldrow managed but four points.
"I am happier with my defense," he said. "We all stepped up on the defensive end, Everybody did their job."
For South Carolina, 47 points was their lowest total in six years.
Both teams started in man-to-man defense, but Alabama's worked better. A shot-clock violation and two illegal screens marred the Gamecocks' first three possessions, while JaMychal Green scored the first six points of the night for Bama. After a Trevor Releford free throw, the Tide led 7-0 before the visitors finally registered a hoop.
Meanwhile, Andrew Steele has only been back three games from a knee injury, but the red shirt sophomore has quickly worked his way into the top seven of Grant's playing rotation. He had four points in 14 minutes, but added his usual good perimeter defense.
Green left the game at the 13:23 mark with a leg injury, but returned without a noticeable limp later in the half.
The 20 points scored by Green and the 16 added by Mitchell weren't shocking developments, but an unlikely suspect -- sophomore point guard Ben Eblen -- gave Bama a spark with a runner for two in the first half and some stellar defensive plays: a steal and a tie up that gave the Tide possession.
"I thought Ben was outstanding especially in those extended minutes he got in the first half," said Grant. "I thought he was very aggressive on both ends of the floor. He got three steals in the first half and was able to penetrate on their defense. I thought he did a great job."
Eblen finished with four steals and one turnover in ten minutes to go with his two points.
The crowd was announced at 11,572, despite a game at 8 p.m. on a church night with outside temperatures in the 20s. Said Grant, "I thought it was a great atmosphere in the building. There was a lot of energy."
The Tide (10-6, 2-0 SEC) travels to Arkansas Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. tip on the SEC Network and ESPN3.
Grant plans to keep his team on an even keel. As he put it, "This is a 16-game schedule in the league. This is one game. We understand that."
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