Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried and Louisiana Monroe Coach Orlando Early, a former Crimson Tide assistant, could laugh after the game that both teams used the same plays and same designations and so both knew what the other team was doing.
But it wasn't so funny for Bama for quite a while. A buzzer-beating trey by Monroe's Jonas Brown gave the Warhawks a 37-36 halftime lead and Louisiana Monroe would extend that to a five-point lead by scoring the first four points of the second half.
Alabama finally got control in the second half with an effective zone defense and some tough inside play on offense. Bama scored nine straight points to take the lead at 45-41. Monroe tied it at 45, but then the Crimson Tide went on a 12-point run and maintained a lead in the double digits range the rest of the way.
With the win, Alabama improved to 6-0. The Crimson Tide is ranked fourth in the nation by Scout.com, sixth by the Associated Press, and seventh in the Coaches Poll. Bama has the third game of its three-game homestand at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday when Alabama hosts Tennessee State.
Alabama had four men in double figures in scoring and three of them had double-double performances. Jermareo Davidson did not have a good game, but still managed to get his fifth double-double in as many games this year, 12 points and 12 rebounds.
All-America point guard Ron Steele missed his second consecutive game as he was held out while recuperating from tendonitis in his right knee. Mykal Riley started in place of Steele and had 22 points, 14 of them in the first half.
Gottfried said, "We thought Ron might play a little tonight, but at gametime we didn't feel it was quite ready. He's had nine days off. We'll see how it goes in the next few days."
Early said Alabama not having Steele was "huge. He's an All-American. Put him out there on the floor and they are a totally different basketball team."
Riley shard high-scoring honors with Alonzo Gee, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds. The high scorers, however, were plagued by turnovers, Gee with six and Riley with four.
Richard Hendrix had first half foul trouble and played only 29 minutes in the game, but was quite productive with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Louisiana Monroe was led by Tony Hooper with 19 points, 15 of them in the first half. Brown had 17 points for the Warhawks, 10 of them in the first half when Alabama was primarily in man-to-man defense. Gottfried also credited the second half play of freshman guard Mikhail Torrance for shutting down Hooper.
Davidson made only three of 15 field goal attempts. Included in his misses were two three-point attempts. "You're going to have nights like this," Davidson said. "Hopefully, you won't have too many. My teammates had my back, though. It was just an off-night."
Hendrix said Monroe "gave us their best shot in the first half."
Gottfried was lavish in his praise of his former assistant for having Monroe well-prepared. Bama's coach also noted:
"A, we don't have Ron (Steele). B, Jermareo had a bad night, which is atypical. C, we had to have 15 shots a foot away from the basket that we couldn't get in. All that combined made for a tough night."
Still, Gottfried saw good things, such as holding Monroe to 25.8 per cent field goal shooting in the second half, and Alabama hitting 19 of 24 free throws. "We had missed 50 foul shots in the five games coming into this one," he said. "Tonight we stepped up and made them."
Alabama had a 48-36 rebounding edge. While the Tide made only 40 per cent of its field goals (26-65), Bama held Monroe to only 33.8 per cent (22-65).