The event began with eight teams in the field on Friday. Alabama defeated Middle Tennessee 71-62 in the opener and Iowa 72-60 in the semifinal to advance to the title game.
Mykal Riley led Alabama with 13 points and 10 rebounds, coming off the bench to play 33 minutes in the game, scoring on 6 of 11 shooting from the field, including one (of six attempts) from 3-point range. Jermareo Davidson had 10 points and 12 rebounds, all 12 of those defensive boards. It was his third game this season, and he has had a double-double in all three games.
Alabama, 4-0, shot 48.1%, making 26 of 57 from the field, four of 15 from 3-point range and seven of 15 from the foul line. It out-rebounded Xavier 45-36.
Xavier, 3-1, was led by Josh Duncan's 14 points and nine rebounds, 13 points off the bench from Johnny Wolf and 10 rebounds and eight points from Justin Doellman. The Musketeers shot 32.3% from the field, making 21 of 5. It was seven of 30 from 3-point range and seven of 10 from the foul line.
Gee was voted the tournament's MVP in a three-game span that found him scoring 13 points against Xavier, 21 against Iowa and 12 against Middle Tennessee for an average of 15.3 points per game. His teammate,
Ronald Steele, joined him on the all-tournament team. Steele's Paradise Jam numbers included six assists, five points and four rebounds against Xavier, 18 points and six assists against Iowa, and 20 points and four assists against Middle Tennessee.
"I told our team that it's still November. We've got a long season ahead of us, but I couldn't be prouder of our team," said Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried. "This is one of those gut-check games. We were playing well early. They made a run on us. They came out at the start of the second half and had a little more energy than we did, made some shots. And we had to dig down.
"Richard (Hendrix) got hit and cut. He's got stitches. Jermareo's back is hurting. Ronald's knee is hurting, and they just sucked it up and found a way, a very courageous way to win a game. I'm really proud of their effort.
"It was a team win, a team effort, but hey had to dig down. And for November, I'm telling you now, that's pretty good. And I think we beat a very good team. They're a veteran team. They've been on the road, they've been in these situations, they responded. You knew they weren't going to go away even when we got up on them early in the first half, so it was a great win from that perspective."
After leading by as many as 11 points, a largest lead of the game it would match again in the second half, at 26-15 with 6:28 remaining, Xavier came back and got within one point by halftime. Alabama led 32-31 at the break. Xavier took the lead at the 18:44 mark in the second half at 36-34 and led by as many as six points at 40-34 with 16:26 remaining before Gee led Alabama on a mini run by making two free throws and a layup in back-to-back plays and Alabama went on a 17-9 run. Alabama took the lead for good in the game on a jumper by Davidson with 8:27 remaining to put the score at 52-51. Another Davidson layup with 3:25 gave Alabama an 11 point lead at 62-51.
"We played great as a team, and we just got it done," said Gee. "It feels great to win MVP. I didn't come in here expecting to win MVP, I was just thinking about us coming down here and winning the tournament, and that's what we did. I'm proud of our team and how hard everybody played."
Alabama returns home to host Texas Southern on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.