Alabama Downs Eagles In Foul-Marred Game

It was foul in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night. Foul, foul, foul. The officials called them all, and maybe a few extra. Although Alabama didn’t shoot its free throws very well, the Tide had enough volume – along with enough Rodney Cooper – to defeat Tennessee Tech, 65-53.

Alabama trailed by 13 points in the first half, but took the lead by intermission and took it for good early in the second half before stretching out the margin in the final five minutes.

The Crimson Tide improved to 6-2 this year and Tennessee Tech fell to 5-4.

Rodney Cooper started the Bama comeback in the first half and finished with a game-high 23 points. Cooper was 5-11 from the field and 2-4 on three-point shots, but made 11-14 free throws. Levi Randolph was the only other Tider in double figures, scoring 10 points.

Dwan Caldwell led Tennessee Tech with 14 points, but only one of those points came in the second half. Charles Jakcson had 12 points for the Golden Eagles.

Tennessee Tech was whistled for 26 personal fouls and Alabama for 19 and the Golden Eagles also had a technical foul called on the bench.

The result was Alabama making 25 of 35 free throws (71.4 per cent) and Tennessee Tech hitting 12-20 (60 per cent).

Bama hit 17-39 from the field (43.6 per cent) with Tennessee Tech making 18-52 (34.6 per cent). The Tide hit 6-14 on three-point shots (42.9 per cent) and the Eagles 5-15 (33.3 per cent).

Tennessee Tech had a big advantage in rebounds in the first half and finished with a 35-30 advantage with the Eagles grabbing 17 offensive boards. On second chance points, though, the visitors had only a 9-8 advantage. Bama had a 13-10 advantage in points off turnovers as Tech committed 13 and Alabama 9.

Alabama’s next action is a tough assignment, playing at Wichita State at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday. Bama returns to Coleman Coliseum Friday, Dec. 19, against Stillman.

Taking only a one-point lead to the second half, Alabama was able to keep Tennessee Tech at bay after the Golden Eagles had one lead, 46-43, in the second half. The Tide took the lead for good at 48-46 on a three-point shot by freshman Riley Norris with 12 minutes to play. As the game went inside five minutes, Cooper hit a pair of free throws to make it a 58-48 advantage and the Alabama lead stayed in the 10-point range the rest of the way.

How did Bama have only a one-point lead, 37-36, at halftime? By making a very good comeback from down 13.

To say that Alabama did not respond well to the attacking style of Tennessee Tech in the first half would be an understatement. The Golden Eagles – forcing the issue with a past-paced motion offense and aggressive man-to-man defense -- scored the first six points of the game in just over a minute of play.

Tennessee Tech, which out-rebounded Bama by 17-9 in the first 20 minutes, built the lead to 13 points with 8:30 to play at 25-12 before Rodney Cooper got the comeback started with eight straight points, a pair of free throws followed by back-to-back three-point shots.

Alabama pulled to within two points at 29-31 on an unusual four-point trip. Shannon Hale connected on a three-pointer with 4:20 to play. Levi Randolph stole the inbounds pass and was fouled and made one free throw to narrow the lead to two points.

Cooper made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 31-31 with 3:16 to play and with 2:33 made another foul shot to give Bama it’s first lead at 32-31.

The Golden Eagles got a shot-clock beating trey with 12 seconds to play in the half to cut the lead at intermission to 37-36.

TIDE NOTES – Alabama’s starting lineup had a new starter with Mike Kessens, a 6-9, 223-pound sophomore starting at forward. He was joined by point guard Ricky Tarrant, guards Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper, and center Jimmie Taylor.

Tarrant played only eight minutes before leaving the game with what described by UofA as “an undisclosed injury.”

This was the first of a nice home game stretch for the Tide, six of seven games in Coleman Coliseum. The exception is Tuesday at Wichita State.

The game was the sixth between Alabama and Tennessee Tech. The Tide has won them all and all have been played in Coleman Coliseum.

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