Tide Struggles In Exhibition

It took some timely late free throw shooting to overcome a slew of turnovers, but Alabama was able to hold off the game Jaguars of D-2 Augusta State for a 61-55 exhibition crowd before a generously announced crowd of 9.047 at Coleman Coliseum.

"This was a great game for us to play," said first-year Alabama coach Anthony Grant. "Look at the success their program has had. All the things that go into winning, they understand. I felt this would be a good test for our team."

JaMychal Green was the only Bama player in double figures. He finished with 12 points and five boards, despite battling foul trouble. Charvez Davis scored eight, while Anthony Brock and Senario Hillman had seven each. Ben Madgen led the visitors with 16 points.

"We have to understand who we are. We have to play hard and play with a passion, " Grant said. "We don't quite understand that yet. We are an under-sized, under-skilled team. We have a very slim margin of error."

The only change in Grant's lineup from last week's win over Montevallo was Justin Knox starting ahead of Chris Hines. The guards were again Brock, Mikhail Torrance and Hillman, along with post man Green.

As he was last week, Andrew Steele came in as the first sub, but seconds later was joined by Hines and Davis. By the 14-minute mark, freshman Tony Mitchell was in. At first (and second) glance, it appears those nine, and a times, freshman guard Ben Eblen, are in the regular playing rotation .

Another similarity to last week, and not a good one, was turnovers. While Grant told the media after the Montevallo game to expect "12-14 turnovers a game, due to the style we play," Bama had 22 against the Falcons and added 22 against the Jaguars, who are coming off two straight Elite Eight appearances in Division II and a Final Four last year.

And again, the majority of the visitors 18 turnovers were forced by Tide pressure, while most of Alabama's were unforced errors.

"I don‘t think it was anything they were doing. " said Torrance. "All the turnovers, to me, were unforced, especially with myself. It‘s extremely frustrating, especially for me, as a senior. My teammates look for me to take care of the ball."

Torrance had four turnovers to go with seven assists.

Another repeat from last week; by the first media timeout at under 16 minutes, Grant already had his jacket off.

The Jaguars took a 10-4 lead, but a Davis bomb, two Knox blocks and a Brock 3 helped Alabama climb back in front 12-11 before the 12-minute mark.

Even so, Bama trailed most of the first half. Nearly all of it. At the 1:28 Mark, Davis nailed a trey to give the Tide a 25-24 lead, but Augusta answered. A Hines leaner put Bama back up a point, and the Jags held for the last shot of the half, but turned it over. See a theme?

With three ticks left before intermission, the buzzer went off but officials (yes, SEC officials) at first counted a dunk by Hines that was clearly a second late, to the chagrin not only of Augusta's coaches but of SEC director of basketball officials Gerald Boudreax, who was on press row to grade his charges.

Ouch. Seconds later the call was corrected and Bama led by one at the break. That despite 11 turnovers, and being out-rebounded 15-14. Green played just three minutes after picking up two quick fouls, which was a problem last year.

In the second half, Brock opened the scoring with a twisting layup. Hillman's 3 from deep in the right corner gave Bama breathing room at 40-33, and the lead got as high as 12 with 12:12 left.

Brock limped off after a collision under the goal with just over five minutes left.

Unable to stand prosperity, the Tide allowed the Jaguars to cut the deficit to two with 10 seconds left. Augusta State missed some open looks behind the arc late or the result could have been drastically different.

Grant came across the court to argue a jump ball with 49 seconds left and his team up four. It was a call that gave State possession after Brock had audibly called timeout with the ball in his hands lying on the floor. By this point, Boudreaux was gone, but the bet is he'll get a game tape.

Madgen scored again to cut the margin to two points, and with game clock just eight-tenths of a second ahead of the shot clock, the Jags began to foul with 26 seconds left.

Torrance, hit both ends of a one-and-one for a four point lead, but Franck Ndongo again brought the margin to two with under ten to go.

A Jags intentional foul sent a recovered Brock to the line for two, and the senior nailed both. Next up: Green, who continued the trend by hitting a pair with five seconds left to ice the win.

"We've got to figure some things out," Grant said. "In three days, the season is for real." That's when the regular season tips off when Cornell comes calling for a 1 p.m. CST tip at Coleman.

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