Bama Basketball Wins Exhibition

Trevor Releford put back a missed shot with half a minute to play, and now the journey can begin on a satisfactory note. The third year of the Anthony Grant era of Alabama men's basketball started with a 67-60 exhibition win over Alabama-Huntsville in Coleman Coliseum Monday night.

"It was a good learning experience for our guys," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant following the win over UAH in the lone exhibition game of the season. "It gets real now going forward. I like the make-up of our team, the way we work. I like the direction we're headed in."

Alabama, ranked 17th in the nation, will host North Florida at 7 p.m. Friday.

Alabama led from wire-to-wire, although the Chargers, ranked second in the nation in Division II, kept it close throughout the second half, pulling to within three points in the final minutes. UAH benefitted from some untimely fouls by Bama. Although the Chargers were good on only 5-19 three-pointers, UAH also had four opportunities to go to the foul line shooting three free throws. For the game, the visitors made 17-22 free throws compared to 8-10 for Alabama.

Bama did not ice the game until inside the final minute when freshman Trevor Lacey's missed shot was rebounded by point guard Trevor Releford under the basket. Releford put it back to give Bama a 65-60 lead. A run-out slam dunk by Tony Mitchell in the final second accounted for the seven-point margin of victory.

Alabama was led by JaMychal Green, who hit 8-11 field goals, including his one three-point try, and 4-4 free throws for 21 points. Mitchell had 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds and Releford 12 points.

UAH's Jaime Smith led all scorers with 27 points. He was 5-12 from the field, including 3-7 on treys, but made 14-15 foul shots.

Alabama led from the beginning and the game was never tied. Bama had a 34-26 halftime lead.

Grant said the Tide defense "at times was really good, times when there were lapses."

UAH made 19-49 field goals (38.8 per cent) and 5-19 three-pointers (26.3 per cent). Alabama was good on 26-53 from the field, 49.1 per cent, and 7-17 on treys (41.2 per cent).

Alabama out-rebounded the Chargers by 35-26.

Midway through the second half, UAH had a surprising advantage on scoring points in the paint. The Chargers had 20 points to Bama's eight. By game's end, that margin was down to 24-22.

Four freshmen played regularly in the game, including wing players Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper starting the game with returning starters Green, Mitchell, and Releford. Cooper had eight points and seven rebounds. Releford didn't score, but had two assists, two blocked shots, and a steal. Lacey came off the bench to score five points and had three rebounds and two assists. Inside player Nick Jacobs had three rebounds, but did not score.

"I thought the (freshmen) came in and did a good job," Grant said. He said that Cooper and Randolph had earned their starts because of "the effort and energy we need. They have a chance to be effective on the defensive end."

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