Hustle Plays Key To Alabama Win

During each basketball game his team plays, Alabama Coach Anthony Grant has his staff keep a "hustle chart." After Saturday's 62-57 home win against No. 23 Mississippi State, that chart was chock-full of stats.



"I thought it was a total team effort, against a nice team," said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant. "I‘m really proud of the effort our guys gave. They showed great character, and great fight. This is a great win for us.

"Everybody on the floor had to do his part, and they did. The thing we wanted to go was come out and impose our will from a defensive standpoint. Our guys really bought into what we had to do, today. I thought our guys had a great will to win today. That will turned into making some great hustle plays and defensive stops. (Senario Hillman) came up with some huge hustle plays and defensive rebounds down the stretch."

Such plays by Hillman don't always show up in a box score. The junior was credited with two points, nine rebounds, two assists and a block.

As for that hustle chart? Though not pressed for specifics, a Tide team manager in the Coleman Coliseum hallway said with a grin that it looked "Good!"

"I think that's very important," said senior guard Mikhail Torrance. "Coach Grant always emphasizes that we have got to win the (hustle chart). Coach Grant did a great job of just continuing to give us confidence in practice, and helping us continue to get better. "It was a real big win, especially because it was a team from the (SEC) West."

Said Grant: "I would say (the hustle chart) had to be pretty good. I thought our guys, from an energy and intensity standpoint, were outstanding today. We were able to come out and sustain that in the second half. Our guys stuck together, and we were able to do things from a defensive standpoint that gave us a chance to win."

The same could be said of the official game stats. To wit: In points off turnovers, UA led 12-11. Not much, but in a close SEC game, every possession is critical. In fast break points, UA led 17-9. In a five-point win, well, do the math.

"We just turned it up on the defensive end. We made them take bad shots," said Green. The Tide forced 11 Bulldogs turnovers, though it gave up the ball 13 times itself. Each team had seven steals.

Before a crowd announced at 12,336 , many wearing the visiting maroon, Bama hustled and clawed and scratched it's way through, keeping the game close against a clearly more talented opponent. Even the national anthem was sung (and sung well) by Tuscaloosa resident and State booster Judi Valentine. The Dogs had plenty of support in the stands. But they were out-hustled, and, as a result, out-scored.

There were floor burns earned from diving for loose balls. There were follow-up hoops on the offensive end. There were charges taken. There were leaps into the crowd in an effort to save loose balls. There were deflections, and steals resulting from them. That is hustle. And there was clutch free throw shooting in the waning moments.

"Our guys did an outstanding job of making free throws late in the game," said Grant. "I thought we did a good job of playing the way we have to play, to win."

Alabama plays it's third straight home game Wednesday against a struggling LSU team. Tip time is 7 p.m. Tickets are available at RollTide.com.

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