Team Effort Gets Tide Men Winning Start

Alabama placed four men in double figures while opening its men’s basketball season with an 82-54 win over Towson. The Tide was led by two seniors: Levi Randolph, who had his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Rodney Cooper, who scored 15 as well. Sophomore Shannon Hale tallied 14 points and true freshman Riley Norris had 10 off the bench with five boards.

“I was really proud of the effort our guys came out with today,” said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant, who picked up his 100th win at Alabama. “We talked about having great energy, and style of play, and being able to play the way we wanted to play. Defensively, I thought the intensity was really good.

“All of our freshmen really did a good job. This is a different team compared to last year. I think this team shared the ball well tonight, and found the open man (a fact borne out by 17 assists). This team has a chance to be very explosive offensively.”

Added Randolph: “Riley (Norris) came to the game, and he did the same thing he does every day at practice. We know what Riley can do. He knows his assignments, and he can shoot the ball well.”

“We made sure we had that attack mentality,” said Cooper. “I thought the energy, passion and hustle were real good. We wanted to show that killer mentality.” Cooper had three assists and two blocks.

Towson built an early four-point lead as the Tide opened with lots of fouls and turnovers. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Norris and Cooper changed that briefly, but the teams traded the lead three times in the first 20 minutes. A Norris slam off a feed from Justin Coleman drew a Towson time out and put the Tide up 10-7 at the 14:16 mark. At the half, the lead belonged to Bama, 39-30. The largest lead in the first stanza came at the 1:10 mark, when Norris’ 3-pointer put Bama up a dozen, 39-27.

In the final 20 minutes, Alabama put the game on ice midway through the half. At the 3:53 mark, the Tide led by 31 points. Towson Coach Pat Skerry said, “Give credit to Alabama. Anthony (Grant’s) a terrific coach, and he had them ready to play. They do a nice job in the open floor. I like their flow on offense. They have a lot of interchangeable parts.”

Grant started the same five players he did Monday in an exhibition win over Montevallo: Point guard Coleman (nine points, three assists), shooting guard Randolph, small forward Cooper, power forward Hale, and center Jimmie Taylor, who picked up two fouls in the first 32 seconds, but did manage four boards and four blocks in 24 minutes. He was replaced in the first minute by Norris, who, along with Coleman, sparked the Tide during the first half. Two men who had been held out Monday both played in the first ten minutes: guards Ricky Tarrant and Retin Obasohan. Every player who participated scored for Alabama, including senior Dakota Slaughter and freshman Devin Mitchell.

Each team had 34 rebounds. Next up for the Tide (1-0) is a Monday home game against Western Carolina, a school that sends its football team to Bryant-Denny next Saturday. Tipoff Monday is at 8:00 p.m. CT, and the SEC Network is set to televise the contest.

In the first half of the Friday night doubleheader, the Alabama women’s team topped Florida A&M, 60-44 to open its season. Sophomore Ashley Williams led the Tide (1-0) with 21 points.

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