Bama Fails AIA Exam

Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried was probably wise to experiment with an exhibition game for his Crimson Tide basketball team coming out of final examinations. Although Gottfried hoped his team would show the same intensity that has helped Bama to a 4-2 record in the early season, Bama likely didn't pass that test. Athletes In Action, a touring team of former college players, held on for a 77-72 win over Alabama at Coleman Coliseum Saturday night.

Alabama returns to play-for-real action at 7 p.m. Tuesday hosting Tennessee-Chattanooga.

"I will start off by saying that that was a real stinker on our part," Coach Mark Gottfried said. "(AIA) outplayed us and they deserve all the credit. I don't know all of the reasons why, but we certainly didn't play very well. That may be a good opportunity for us to learn a lesson. We are not a very good basketball team unless we play at a high level of energy and intensity. We didn't do that tonight and we got beat."

Although Alabama was not at its best, the Crimson Tide gets credit for a furious comeback try. Athletes In Action led almost the entire game. Bama's last lead came with just under three minutes to play in the first half at 30-29. AIA had a 37-34 halftime lead and the closest Alabama would get to the lead in the second half was tying at 39-39 a minute and a half into the period. AIA started to pull away in the final 10 minutes, taking a 12-point lead at 71-59 with 3:10 to play.

Three-point field goals by Antoine Pettway, Emmett Thomas and Earnest Shelton and a pair of two-point baskets by Evan Brock enabled Alabama to pull to 75-72 with 19 seconds to play and the Crimson Tide with the ball and a chance to tie the game with a three-point shot. But the shot missed and Bama was charged with a foul on the rebound attempt, enabling AIA to put the game away with two free throws in the final six seconds.

Although Alabama made one more field goal than AIA, the visitors made their shots count for more. AIA was good on 14 of 22 three-point shots (a blistering 63.6 per cent) and scored 64 points from the field. The visitors hit 51 per cent from the field overall. Bama managed only 43.3 per cent shooting from the field, including only 19.4 per cent on five-of-17 three-point shots. Bama had 63 points from the field.

Joe Modderman, a 6-8 former Iowa State player, stepped out to make six-of-seven three-pointers and finished with 25 points. Reed Rawlings, who played at Samford in Birmingham, was one of four other AIA players in double figures as he had 11 points.

It was no surprise that Earnest Shelton was the leading scorer for Alabama, because the junior guard has been shooting very well this year. Last week he was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week. Against AIA Shelton had 20 points with respectable nine-of-19 field goal shooting. However, he was good on only two of his nine three-point attempts. More surprising than Shelton's point total was his rebound total, a game-high 11 boards which was also easily his career best.

Evan Brock came off the bench to score 14 points on six-of-10 shooting from the field. Chuck Davis had 11 points, but only two rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds.

Kennedy Winston had only six points in his 29 minutes of play and Jermareo Davidson made only one of eight field goal attempts and finished with just three points in 23 minutes.

Starting point guard Antoine Pettway played only six minutes in the first half, but was on the court 17 of the 20 second half minutes.

Although Bama had only a 35-33 advantage in rebounds, the Tide was much more effective with its inside scoring, getting 32 points in the paint to only 10 for Athletes In Action. Bama also had 14 second chance points to only five for AIA and the Tide scored 21 points off AIA's 17 turnovers, while AIA scored 13 points off Bama's 11 miscues.

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