Tide Exhibits Some Skill

In its first competition since falling to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Elite Eight of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, the Alabama basketball team made it look easy in an exhibition victory over out-manned crosstown Stillman College in Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night. Excellent shooting carried Bama to a 104-50 decision.

Five Alabama players scored in double figures and only one Tider had more than a half of playing time in the easy victory. Bama played a total of 14 players and a dozen of them got into the scoring column.

Alabama scored the first nine points of the game and cruised to a 40-point halftime advantage, 59-19.

Earnest Shelton was 4-of-4 on three-pointers and led Bama in scoring with 14 points in only 15 minutes of playing time. Kennedy Winston had 13 points in 17 minutes. One of the pleasant surprises for the Tide was the shooting of walk-on Justin Jonus, who came off the bench and hit all five of his field goal attempts, including three threes, and scored 13 points in 13 minutes. Inside players Chuck Davis and Jermareo Davidson had 11 points each.

Freshman Ronald Steele started the game at point guard, the only position where Bama does not have a returning starter, and did very well. Steele hit 3-of-4 from the field and all three of his free throws for nine points, turned in a game-high five assists, had one steal, and only one turnover in 19 minutes of play.

Another newcomer showed some athletic moves and also provided a bit of comic relief. Junior college transfer Jean Felix bombed a three-pointer and was quick up and down the floor. But he might be best remembered for getting the first technical foul of the year. Following a timeout, Alabama returned to the floor with a 39-9 lead and another advantage–six men on the floor. Felix had missed hearing that he had been replaced in the line-up and after only about 13 seconds of play the officials caught the infraction.

Alabama shot around 75 per cent from both the field and the three-point line until late in the game and finished up with very strong numbers. Bama made 40-of-58 from the field for 609 per cent, including 8-of-12 three-pointers, 67 per cent. Bama also hit 16-of-19 free throws, 84 per cent.

Alabama was more experienced, bigger, and stronger than Stillman. The visitors could manage only 20-of-59 from the field (34 per cent), 5-of-15 three-pointers (33 per cent) and 5-of-9 free throws (55.6 per cent).

Bama turned in 13 steals and forced 23 turnovers by Stillman and the Crimson Tide out-rebounded the Tigers, 35-26. Bama was a bit ragged at times, committing 13 turnovers.

Stillman is playing under first year Coach Leon Douglas, an Alabama All-America in the 1970s. Although the Tigers were out-manned in every respect, Stillman played hard from start to finish. And the finish was a three-point shot at the buzzer by Dannelle Smith. Wayne Bender was the only Tiger in double figures as he scored 15.

Alabama will have a final exhibition at 2 p.m. Saturday in Coleman Coliseum against Athletes in Action. The touring team of former college players defeated Alabama last year, 77-72. An NCAA rules change has ended the practice of exhiition games against any teams except four-year American colleges for Division I teams, which was the reason for the game against Stillman. Alabama is allowed to play Athletes in Action this year because the game was contracted before the new rule was adopted.

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