Alabama Gets Past Pesky Wofford

Alabama's basketball team had to overcome some dry stretches and throw cold water on hot-shooting Wofford before the Crimson Tide could wash away the Terriers in Coleman Coliseum Monday night.



The Alabama Crimson Tide of Coach Mark Gottfried trailed most of the first half, but took over in the second half for a not-so-comfortable 80-73 victory over the Wofford Terriers. The game was part of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic tournament, which continues for Bama with a home game against Texas-Pan American at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Win or lose – as was the case Monday night – Bama will advance to Las Vegas for a 7 p.m. Saturday game against Missouri State. The tournament concludes Sunday with Alabama playing either Purdue or Iowa State.

Alabama improved to 6-3 with Monday's victory. Wofford fell to 4-4.

Alabama seemed to be a bit rusty, perhaps understandable after a nine-day layoff from games during final examinations week. Richard Hendrix and Alonzo Gee broke out of dry spells to key the victory.

Hendrix did not have a point for the first 19 minutes and 37 seconds of the first half and Wofford had a 37-31 lead over the Crimson Tide. But Hendrix hit a layup and was fouled and connected on the free throw with 23 seconds to play. Then with two seconds to play, Bama got the ball out from under its own goal. Demetrius Jemison threw the ball the length of the court to Hendrix, who made the catch, then hooked in a short jumper at the buzzer to cut Wofford's lead to 37-36 at halftime.

Hendrix said the five-point spurt at the end of the half gave him a lift and Gottfried said he thought it gave Alabama a boost.

Alabama scored the first four points of the second half, briefly lost the lead at 41-40, then took the lead for good on a lay-up by Hendrix with 17:26 to play. It was, though, an uncomfortable lead throughout.

Gee started off hot, scoring 11 points in the first 4:20 of the game. He then went without another point until getting a free throw at the 7:55 mark of the first half. That was it for Gee until he connected on a pair of quick three-point shots midway through the second half. With Alabama was leading 60-57 when Gee connected on a three-point shot after a kick-out assist from Hendrix with 7:47 to play. Moments later Gee blocked a Wofford shot, then got the ball at the other end on an assist from Mikhail Torrance for another trey at 7:17.

Gee would finish with 21 points and Hendrix with 16 to lead the Alabama win. Mykal Riley added 11 for the Tide.

Alabama's lead would reach 10 points at 71-61 with 5:32 to play, but a lot of missed shots – including a number of missed free throws – helped the visitors to get back to within three points in the final two minutes. A Riley putback of a missed Gee shot sealed the win.

There were a number of surprising statistics in the game. The smaller Wofford team out-rebounded Alabama 38-29, including having a 21-11 advantage in boards in the first half.

Wofford led by as many as eight points in the first half before the late Crimson Tide flurry got Bama back into the game. Wofford connected on an amazing 10 of 14 three-point shots in the first half. The Terriers had only 11 field goals in the first half, 10 of them treys. In the second half, Alabama took away many of the three-point opportunities. Wofford was good on only two of 12 trey tries after intermission.

Shane Nichols led Wofford with 20 points, 12 of them in the first half.

In the first half there were 73 points scored by the two teams and 54 points came on three-point plays. The teams combined for 14 three-point shots behind the line. Wofford got three free throws when fouled while attempting a trey. And Bama had three old-fashioned three-point plays, a two-point shot and free throw.

Alabama's year-long poor free throw shooting continued. Bama was only 12 of 24 from the foul line. The Tide was about as good from the three-point line, 8-17 (47.1 per cent). For the game, Alabama was good on 30 of 55 shots, 54.5 per cent, while holding Wofford to 38.9 per cent (21-54, including 12-26 three-pointers for 46.2 per cent). Wofford was good on 19 of 21 free throws.

Gottfried was pleased with Alabama having 19 assists and only 10 turnovers.

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