Alabama Finish Defeats Friars
Alabama defeated Providence by an 84-75 score as Coach Anthony Grant's Crimson Tide scored 10 straight points in the final 1:10. The visiting Friars had taken a 75-74 lead with 1:37 to play.
On an inbounds play from the side, Andrew Steele got behind the defense and Hillman made the pass to him for a layup and a 76-75 Crimson Tide advantage.
Hillman was playing defense on Providence's top player, Marshon Brooks. He forced Brooks to turn, and when the Friars star did Bama guard Mikhail Torrance stole the ball and went the length of the court for a layup. He was fouled and made the free throw and the Tide had a 79-75 lead.
Hillman got in on the end-of-game run, too, with a steal from Brooks and a dunk with 19 seconds remaining in the game. That closed out the scoring.
Torrance led the Crimson Tide with 26 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Both of Alabama's starting frontcourt players, junior Justin Knox and sophomore JaMychal Green, posted double-doubles. Knox scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Green added 15 points and 12 boards.
The Crimson Tide's next contest comes on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, against Baylor in the Ole Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CST and the game will air on ESPN2.
Torrance said, "Senario just amazes me. He is a total team player. He told Coach Grant at the end of the game that he didn't want to go on the bench. He was hitting some tough shots all night and at the end Senario made a big stop."
"I couldn't be prouder of the effort our guys gave," Grant said. "I think it's fitting that we were in a position where we had to defend to win the game, and down the stretch the last two minutes our guys stepped up to the challenge and did a great job and got stops and were able to pull it out.
"I think we've played really good competition. Up to this point in the year I think we've seen a variety of styles. We've seen a variety of different systems. I think every game gives us an opportunity to grow as a team. I thought preparation for this game was short. We were able to get some things done in terms of intensity and focus that are guys need to have in order to be able to win a game like this so that's how I look at it. I really don't judge them. This is college basketball. Everybody can play. There's not a team out there no matter what conference they're from. There's a lot of good basketball out there being played. We were fortunate to get this win tonight and I thought we got better."
After trailing by four points at halftime, Alabama began the second half with a 9-2 spurt capped by a Torrance dunk to take a 42-39 lead. The Tide maintained that lead, albeit by the smallest of margins, until the 2:02 mark when Providence's Jamine Peterson made two free throws to put the Friars back on top 72-71.
The game had 16 lead changes. Alabama scored 51 points in the second half.
"I thought (Knox) was huge," Grant said. "In the second half when JaMychal picked up his fourth foul, I think we may have had a four-point lead, a three-point lead, somewhere in that neighborhood, and they were making a run.
"We needed to be able to get some rebounds and convert on the other end. I thought Justin came in, and he was great from the free-throw line, he gave us some big rebounds down the stretch there. He was a very physical presence on the inside, and I'm really happy for him being able to come out and make the contribution he did tonight."
Torrance, Green and Knox shot a combined 25-for-28 from the foul line helping Alabama shoot 77.1 percent (27-for-35) from the charity stripe for the game.
Despite the fact that Providence used a full-court press for much of the game, the Tide protected the ball well with only eight turnovers. Bama had only two turnovers in the second half. The Alabama defense forced 14 turnovers that led to 21 points.
After struggling shooting the ball in the first half, Alabama bounced back and shot 53.3 percent (16-for-30) after the break. For the game, the Tide shot 40.3 percent (27-for-67), while holding Providence to 36.8 percent shooting (25-for-68).
Peterson finished with a game-high 27 points for Providence and also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for an impressive double-double. Brookes scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
"I think that's growth, and that's something that we preach every day," Grant said. "We have to be able to move on to the next play, to stay in the present moment, and we're getting better at that. I thought our guys did a good job of that today."
Providence Coach Keno Davis said, "It was not a good sign to get outrebounded by Alabama tonight after we were at a plus 15 per game, but it was a different level team. They were coming in and doing exactly what we do, they were crashing the offensive boards. So we did a great job on the offensive boards and not so good job on the defensive board."
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