Alabama Basketball Faces Shockers

Following its opening win over Maryland in San Juan Thursday, the Alabama basketball team will have a rematch of the 2011 NIT Championship Game in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tipoff Classic.

The Alabama team of Coach Anthony Grant will meet Wichita State at 8 p.m. CST Friday at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico. Bama defeated Maryland, 62-42, and Wichita State was a 67-58 winner over Colorado. The Crimson Tide lost to the Shockers in the finals of the NIT last year, 66-57. Alabama and Wichita State are 2-2 all-time.

Friday's game will be televised on ESPN2.

Alabama is 3-0 and ranked 16th in the nation by the Associated Press and 15th in the Coaches Poll. Wichita State, 2-0, is not ranked. (Alabama is the only school in the nation to have both its football and basketball teams ranked in the nation's top 15 in the coaches polls. The Bama football team is third in the nation.)

The winner of Friday night's game will play for the tournament championship Sunday against the winner of the Purdue-Temple game. Losers play in the consolation game Sunday.

Junior forward Tony Mitchell led Alabama in its opening win over Maryland. With senior forward JaMychal Green in early foul trouble, Mitchell scored 17 points (15 in the first half) with 3-4 three-point shooting, and had 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford added 10 points as he, too, had limited playing time because of foul problems.

Green, Mitchell, and Releford are expected to again be joined by true freshmen Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph in the starting lineup.

Freshmen Trevor Lacey and Nick Jacobs and sophs Carl Engstrom and Charles Hankerson are also getting substantial playing time.

Alabama out-rebounded Maryland by 44-28.

Alabama made 42 per cent of its field goals (24-56), but was better behind the arc at 43 per cent on 7-16.

Wichita State was led by Toure Murry and Ben Smith, each with 17 points, and Garrett Stutz with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Alabama has built a reputation as an outstanding defensive team under Grant. Through its first three games, Alabama has held North Florida to 44 points, Oakland to 57, and Maryland to 42 on combined 29.7 per cent shooting.

Maryland became the 13th opponent in Grant's two-plus seasons at Alabama to score fewer than 50 points. Alabama is 13-0 in those games.

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