Tide mashes 'Mocs

Better ball movement and a five-board advantage on the glass propelled Alabama to an 82-63 basketball win over Chattanooga Monday night before a paid (but sparse) crowd of 8,511 at Coleman Coliseum, a crowd which seemed to enjoy the 10 dunks by the home team, and the five men it placed in double digits.

"Our team is getting better. We're improving," said Bama coach Mark Gottfried, whose team improved to 7-3. "Defensively, our concentration was very good. I like the fact that we came out and played very hard."

"Our guys did a real good job of concentrating. We did a good job of controlling the tempo. We moved the ball better, and we turned those into baskets.

Alabama had 16 assists to seven turnovers during the game. Chattanooga dropped to 2-8 for the season as the Mocs were out-rebounded, 39-34.

Senior Alonzo Gee led all scorers with 20 points. Sophomore center Justin Knox had a career-high 14 points and seven boards.

"The game is starting to feel a lot more comfortable to me, and I'm starting to let it come to me more," said Knox. "As that happens, I'm going to start getting a lot more opportunities around the bucket."

"That's basically what my job is for the team, and that worked out well tonight."

"Knox is getting better. He's one of those guys who you're watching get better before your eyes. He established good position, and once he caught the ball he took his time, and took it up there strong," Gottfried stated.

Senior Brandon Hollinger shook off a season-long shooting slump to can a pair of treys and finish with 10 points.

Alabama led 38-23 at intermission on the strength of six dunks, two each by Gee and JaMychal Green. Green finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Gee also led all scorers through 20 minutes with 13 points.

Back-to-back slams by Knox and Gee had the Tide up 30-15 at the 4:20 mark. Bama's biggest lead of the half was 16 points, which came at the 1:11 mark on a runner by Senario Hillman, who finished the game with 11 points.

The Mocs' leading scorer, senior Stephen McDowell, was held to 15 points by the smothering defense of Hillman. McDowell came in averaging just over 19 points per game. Most of McDowell's points came with the game out of reach. Hillman also had four steals on the night.

"I thought Hillman set the tone with his job on McDowell," Gottfried said.

"I love Hillman. He's like the Energizer Bunny. Hillman brings a lot of energy," Mocs coach John Shulman said, "and they've got men on the glass. Green brings a lot of energy. I like their team."

"Senario Hillman is the spark-plug of the team," said Hollinger. "Once he gets out there and gets a couple of steals, everyone wants steals then. After Alonzo Gee gets a steal and a dunk, team momentum is boosted up."

"We were running our regular defense, but we decided to pressure the ball more. Pressure defense is what we want to do, to stop teams from getting the ball into the post. We just pressure the ball out there, to stop them from getting open shots."

Freshman Andrew Steele sat out with a possible concussion after running into a screen at practice Sunday.

Alabama will practice Tuesday morning and then off until Friday afternoon. They will host Yale Sunday Dec 28, with tip-off set for 6:00 p.m. The Yale contest is not televised.

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