Tide Men Get Win For Grant

Alabama basketball fans were looking for a team that played hard for 40 minutes, pressed, dove for loose balls and ran like crazy on offense.

On Wednesday night, for the most part, the 10,245 who showed up at Coleman Coliseum saw all of the above as Alabama belted Division II Montevallo in an exhibition game, 81-53, in the first game for Coach Anthony Grant at The Capstone.

" This game, I challenged our guys to try to come out and play to our identity," said Grant. "There were some good things. I thought our energy was very good. There was an understanding of what I wanted from an effort standpoint.

"At the end of the day, you're always happy to get a win. My main focus was being concerned with what we were doing and how we were playing. Overall, I say we made strides today." ."

Grant started a pair of point guards, seniors Mikhail Torrance and Anthony Brock. They were joined at the tip by juniors Senario Hillman and Chris Hines, and sophomore JaMychal Green. The first two subs in the game for the Tide were sophomore guard Andrew Steele and junior post man Justin Knox.

Green led all scorers with 18 points and his 11 boards were also a game high. He was scoreless at the break.

"Second half, I think I came out more aggressive. I had my head right, and my teammates just found me when I was open," said Green. "My coaches and my teammates helped me keep a level head."

Joining Green in double digits: Knox (13), Torrance (12), Davis (11) and Hillman, who scored all 10 of his points before intermission. Davis (3-5) and Hillman (2-3) were both effective behind the arc.

Green had help on the boards, the Tide ruled 47-31, as Knox grabbed nine and Hillman a half-dozen. Torrance dealt a game-high six assists. Torrance logged the most minutes at 23, but Cage played eight, and he was the only Tider not in double digits time-wise.

As promised, Grant substituted liberally. Next in were freshman forward Tony Mitchell and junior guard Charvez Davis. Freshman guard Ben Eblen entered at the 12 minute mark. In eight minutes, Grant had played all 10 of his healthy players on scholarship, and walk-on Greg Cage entered with 6:18 left in the opening half, and 17 seconds later, he scored, and two minutes after that canned a 3-pointer to the crowd's delight.

It took the Falcons nearly 13 minutes to reach double figures, as the Tide, aided by Grant's pressing/trapping defense, went on a 16-2 run en route to a 39-25 lead at the half, despite missing 8-of-17 free throws in the first 20 minutes. That state improved as the game wore on, as UA finished 24-36.

The Tide lead ballooned to 55-43 on steal and dunk by Green that forced a Falcon timeout at the 12:52 mark.

Turnovers were an issue for both teams. Alabama gave it up 22 times, and the Falcons succumbed to pressure 20 times. Bama got 24 points off turnovers but gave up 18.

"We're not where we want to be. That's what practice is for," Torrance said. "It's a learning experience. We're still in the process of trying to get better. There's a lot of stuff we've got to get better at, from an execution standpoint."

Said Grant: "A lot of it was we were trying to make plays that weren't there. Because of the pace we want to play at, we have to learn to play quick but not in a hurry. I want the ball pushed up, but that doesn't' mean we have to try to make a (big) play every time down the floor.

"'We'll take the game tape, and we'll break it down, and we'll learn from it. We've got to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball."

The evening didn't begin so up-beat, as the Tide women's team blew a 12-point halftime lead and fell to North Alabama, 68-67, as the Lady Lions' Niala Harris hit a driving lay-up with three seconds left.

"We tried a lot of different combinations , and we didn't play well with a lot of those," said Tide Coach Wendell Hudson. "We played against a basketball team that was fired up and made a lot of shots.

"If we're going to have a chance to have a good basketball team, we've got to have everybody playing hard at both ends of the floor, all the time."

Bama, which took 79 shots and made but 27, was led in scoring by Tierney Jenkins with 17 points and 15 boards, while LaToya King added 14.

"We could have played a little harder," said King.

The Bama men will host Augusta State in an exhibition game next Tuesday night, while the ladies will hold a Crimson/White scrimmage Sunday at 2 p.m.

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