Veterans Bail Out Tide In Win Over WCU

In the 1970s, Alabama Basketball Coach C.M. Newton would complain wryly that Tide Football Coach Paul Bryant would beat everyone in the fall and they would try to take it out on Newton in the winter. Newton, of course, actually held his own in basketball season.

The Bama football team won’t have to seek revenge when the Western Carolina football team comes to Tuscaloosa Saturday for homecoming. It wasn’t easy, but Coach Anthony Grant’s Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team pulled out an 80-74 win over the Western Carolina Catamounts in Coleman Coliseum Monday night.

Alabama fell behind by six points with 6:35 to play, but Tide veterans Shannon Hale and Levi Randolph made plays down the stretch to bail out Bama.

It helped that Alabama sophomore center Jimmie Taylor had career highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds (although he did not score in the final 15 minutes) and transfer guard Ricky Tarrant had 18 points. Randolph finished with 19 points and Hale (who played only six minutes in the first half because of foul trouble and had only two points at intermission) had 10.

Alabama also got a huge three-point shot from freshman point guard Justin Coleman, which put the Tide up for good at 70-69 with 4:15 to play.

In the final 23 seconds, Hale made a pair of free throws and Randolph made four to ice the win.

Alabama improved to 2-0, while the Catamounts fell to 0-2.

This was the second game of the CBE Classic. Two rounds were played on college campuses. This tournament will continue next week when the Tide goes to Kansas City to play Iowa State on Nov. 24 and either Maryland or Arizona on Nov. 25.

Before that, though, Alabama has a Coleman Coliseum game at 8 p.m. CST Thursday against Southern Miss.

Alabama had a comfortable 41-33 halftime lead, but Western Carolina wasn’t going away in great part because of the shooting of James Sinclair, who scored 31 points on 10-18 shooting from the field, including 4-10 from three-point land. Enterprise native Rhett Harrelson had 13 points and Mike Brown 12 for the Catamounts.

Alabama hit 23-49 field goals for 46.9 per cent, including just 2-17 on three-pointers (11.8) per cent. Western Carolina made 25-59 from the field, 42.4 per cent, and 9-28 on treys, 32.1 per cent.

The game gave ample proof of why Western Carolina lost a 10-point game to Mississippi State last Friday night as the Bulldogs made 28-37 free throws to only 5-10 by the Catamounts. WCU committed 28 fouls and Bama made 32-42 free throws (76.2 per cent). Alabama committed 20 fouls and WCU made 15-22 foul shots (68.2 per cent).

The game was tied five times and thre were 14 lead changes. Both teams committed 15 turnovers.

TIDE NOTES: The starting lineup for Alabama was center Jimmie Taylor, forward Shannon Hale, and guards Justin Coleman, Rodney Cooper, and Levi Randolph.

Transfer Michael Kessens, a 6-9 inside player, made his first appearance for the Tide. He missed the opener recuperating from injury. About a minute after entering the game he connected on two free throws.

Western Carolina has two players from Alabama, starting guard Rhett Harrelson from Enterprise and back-up forward Justin Browning from Sylacauga. Both are juniors. There appeared to be an Enterprise contingent in the stands giving Harrelson a warm welcome during player introductions and when Harrelson made back-to-back three-point shots in the first half.

Alabama is now 4-0 against Western Carolina. All four games have been played in Tuscaloosa.

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