Preliminaries Over For Tide Basketball

A few days after a humiliating performance in a loss to Clemson and a few days before taking on the two-time defending national champion Florida Gators, Alabama's basketball team got a victory. Friday night's performance probably wouldn't have been good enough to beat Clemson and probably won't be good enough against Florida.

Alabama got double-digit scoring from five players in its 93-79 win over Chicago State in Coleman Coliseum Friday night. Crimson Tide Coach Mark Gottfried liked the sharing of the scoring, as well as the 24 assists that showed sharing of the basketball. But he said he knows that defense has to be better.

Florida won't be the same team that won the NCAA Tournament the past two years. A handful of stars from those teams have departed. But the Gators will be a tough test for Bama as Southeastern Conference competition begins next week. Alabama will host Florida at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday in a game that will be telecast by ESPN.

Alabama improved to 11-4 with the win over Chicago State. The Cougars fell to 5-13.

Two Tiders had double-double performances. Richard Hendrix had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Alonzo Gee had 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Hendrix had his double-double by halftime, when he had recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds in leading Bama to a 42-34 lead at intermission.

Also in double figures for Alabama in scoring were Mykal Riley with 18 points and Rico Pickett and Brandon Hollinger with 14 points each.

Chicago State stayed close until the last few minutes of the first half. Bama looked like it might make a rout of it in the second half, but the Cougars kept clawing back with an aggressive defense that forced 18 Alabama turnovers. Chicago State got 24 points from David Holston, 19 from Tawrence Walton, and 10 from John Cantrell.

Gottfried said his team was "casual" with the basketball, which led to several turnovers.

"It was a good win," Gottfried said. "We could have done a lot of things better, but we got the job done." He pointed out that Alabama's non-conference schedule ranks among the most difficult played by SEC teams.

"We could have had some more wins," Gottfried said. "That's over. Now we go to the next step, the conference.

"I think our guys have improved. I think our guard play has gotten better.

"We've got a lot of improving to do defensively. We want to be a tough, hard-nosed defensive team. We're not near where we want to be. We've got to get a lot better."

Alabama dominated Chicago State inside with an advantage in rebounds, 46-31, and with six blocked shots, four of them by Hendrix. Bama outscored the Cougars by 50-28 on points in the paint.

Alabama hit 34 of 67 shots (50.7 per cent), including 10-23 on three-pointers (43.5 per cent). The Tide hit 15 of 23 foul shots (65.2 per cent). Chicago State made 29 of 64 field goals (45.3 per cent) including 11-25 treys (44 per cent). The Cougars made 10 of 14 free throws (71.4 per cent).

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