"We turned the ball over the first five times we touched it," Gottfried noted afterwards. "And that's ridiculous. In the second half we did a lot of little things well that became big as the game went along."
Next Tuesday and Wednesday (November 13-14), 24th ranked Alabama will host a first-round bracket of the Guardians Classic at Coleman Coliseum. The Tide will face Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday at 8:30 pm (CT), with Samford and Loyola-Marymount squaring off in the other game (6 pm). The winners play the next day at 8:30, preceded by the consolation game at 6. The team that emerges will travel to Kansas City's Kemper Arena the next week for the tournament finals.
"We learned a little bit about our team tonight," Gottfried said following Bama's final exhibition game of the season. "EA Sports made us play. I wasn't pleased with the first half, but in the second half we played much better. The exhibition games are over. The guys are ready to play."
Terrance Meade was Bama's leading scorer in its first game last week, but the shooting guard was nursing a tender ankle tonight and played only seven minutes. In his absence, freshman sensation Maurice ‘Mo' Williams slid over from point guard to the two position, and responded with 23 points to lead the Tide.
"I got my first game behind me, so I felt more confident tonight," Williams said. "My teammates told me to just play my game. In any given game your role can change. My role tonight was to score to help Rod (Grizzard) and Erwin (Dudley)."
Dudley and Grizzard also scored in double figures, contributing 18 and 19 points respectively. "This was our last exhibition before the real ones start," Grizzard said. "We were a little lackadaisical in the first half, but we got after it in the second half."
Along with his 18 points, Dudley led the Tide in rebounding with 14. But the big forward was challenged underneath, as EA Sport fielded a tall lineup, including a 6-11 center. "I'm going to be facing that all year," Dudley said. "So it was good to work against defensive players that are bigger than me."
After Williams, Grizzard and Dudley, Antoine Pettway came off the bench to score 10 points. Dudley was the only Bama player with double-digit rebounds, though Grizzard and Kenny Walker pulled down six and five each. For the game, Alabama outrebounded EA Sports 44 to 33. Alabama shot 54 percent from the field, including 8-of-18 (44 percent) from behind the three-point arc.
EA Sports was paced by Andrian Peterson's 17 points. Nakiea Miller had six rebounds for the touring team. Former Tide forward Schea Cotton, now playing with EA Sports, had 14 points and two rebounds.
Junior Travis Stinnett (shoulder) and sophomore Demetrius Smith (knee) were held out of action, leaving plenty of minutes for Antoine Pettway to work at point guard. "We saw some things tonight with Antoine and Mo on the floor at the same time," Gottfried said. "Both are quick. That ball really moves around with those guys out there. Antoine really set the pace for us tonight defensively. He did a good job."
Gottfried expects Smith and Meade to return next week, but the prognosis for Stinnett is uncertain. "It doesn't look good," Gottfried said. "Stinnett said he heard something pop. His left shoulder is real stiff."
Both reserve forward Solomon Davis and Pettway are former walk-ons, awarded scholarships in the off-season. And with Stinnett temporarily out, that leaves Alabama with only seven healthy players that were awarded scholarships out of high school. "We need them back," Gottfried said. "Right now we haven't got enough.
"Tonight was a good game. EA Sport forced us to play hard. Both of our exhibition games have been good games. But it's time to play."