Tide Uses Defense To Get 56-50 Win Over UCLA

When push came to shove, defense trumped tradition as the Alabama basketball team held off a fierce second half rally to down UCLA 56-50 Sunday night at Coleman Coliseum. Junior transfer Ricky Tarrant led all scorers with 24 points, and he was joined in double figures by senior Levi Randolph, who scored 15. Randolph was 5-for-6 at the foul line in the final 33 seconds to ice the win.

Tarrant said, “I was just making plays within the offense. I credit my teammates for putting me in a positon to make plays.”

Randolph’s trey from the left corner at the 17:35 mark gave Bema a 5-3 lead in a half that featured one tie and one lead change. The season-best crowd of 13,472 seemed to enjoy that make, as well as Shannon Hale’s old-fashioned 3-point play for an 11-3 Tide lead with 13:28 to go in the stanza. Hale’s free throw capped an 11-1 Alabama run. At the half, the Tide led 29-17. Bama’s biggest lead was 15 at the 6:36 mark.

The Bruins (8-5) did not hit double figures until Bryce Alford made three free throws at the 430 mark. UCLA shot 17.9 per cent in the half, and 30.8 for the game. The Tide only shot 33.3 per cent on the night.

Alford, son of Bruins Coach Steve, led the visitors with 16 points.

Said Steve Alford: “You’ve got to give their defense a lot of credit. We had no rhythm offensively, especially in the first half. We had a lot of unforced errors, but they’re a really good defensive team. Not making shots and turning the ball over was a big key (in the loss). Give them credit, but we didn’t value the ball. We had 18 turnovers.”

Tide Coach Anthony Grant added, “That was a really gritty win for us. We knew coming in we’d have to have a great effort from a defensive standpoint. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our guys for sticking together, and making enough plays, especially on the defensive end.

“I thought Ricky Tarrant did a great job of carrying us. He did a good job of being aggressive from an offensive standpoint, especially in the first half.”

(Tarrant scored 18 of his 24 before intermission.)

The Bruins began the second half much hotter, and cut the Bama lead to two less than three minutes in. Riley Norris got the crowd back in it with a 3-ball on Bama’s next possession. Tarrant then drove the length of the court, scored, was fouled, and made the free throw for a 35-27 lead 4:02 into the half.

At the 7:42 media time out, UA led by only a point before Jimmie Taylor put back an errant Tarrant trey. Three trips later, Bema was in the double bonus and Rodney Cooper hit one of two free throws for a 44-40 lead with 5:13 left.

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