Alabama Rebounds For Road Victory

The Alabama men's basketball team has had some experience in building a big lead, then letting it get away. It's good to be on the other side. In a most unlikely scenario, Alabama went on the road in the Southeastern Conference without what some would say is its best player and immediately fell behind by 11 points.

Some two hours later, Coach Anthony Grant's Alabama basketball team had overtaken the South Carolina Gamecocks, building an 11-point lead of its own in the final seconds before settling for a 79-70 victory in Columbia.

The win improved Alabama to 15-14 overall and 5-10 in SEC games. South Carolina fell to 5-10 in the league and 14-15 overall. It was Bama's second SEC road game victory in eight tries.

Alabama finishes regular season play Saturday hosting Auburn at 12:30 p.m. CST. Coleman Coliseum is sold out. Auburn defeated Alabama, 58-57, earlier this year, one of three one-point losses the Crimson Tide has suffered.

Alabama was without its best inside player, JaMychal Green, who had been suspended. Green is Bama's top rebounder, but it didn't seem to hurt too much as the Tide out-rebounded South Carolina by an incredible margin of 49-26.

Alabama was facing a South Carolina league that leads the SEC in caused turnovers, and Bama was quite accommodating. The Tide turned it over four times in the first two minutes. The Tide came into the game averaging just over 12 turnovers per game and had 14 in the first half.

And so the game started with South Carolina celebrating Senior Night, running out to an 11-0 lead. One piece of good news was that Justin Knox, starting in place of Green, scored Bama's first six points. The bad news is that Alabama was behind 18-6. The Gamecocks got out to as much as a 14-point lead in the first half.

By halftime, Alabama was back in the game, down by only three points at 39-36. Tony Mitchell scored the first basket of the second half to pull the Tide to within a point, but Bama could not catch up. South Carolina would build leads as much as seven points in the second half.

With 7:07 to play, Mitchell slammed home a basket on an assist from Mikhail Torrance to tie the game for the first time at 59-59.Bama got its first lead of the game with just under six minutes top play when Charvez Davis made a three-point shot. The Gamecocks went back in front at 64-62, but with less than four minutes to play Davis made his second three-pointer and Alabama had the lead for good.

Knox, starting in place of Green, finished the game with a career high 17 points and also had seven rebounds. Mikhail Torrance also had 17 points for Bama and added six rebounds and eight assists.

And those turnovers? Alabama had only four in the second half. The Gamecocks had a 14-0 advantage in points off turnovers early in the first half. At game's end, Alabama had scored 20 points off South Carolina turnovers and the Gamecocks had 19 off Tide miscues.

Alabama's rebounding margin included the Tide having 16 offensive rebounds, the key reason Bama had a 16-1 advantage in second chance points. Chris Hines had a career high 14 rebounds to go with his seven points.

Freshman Tony Mitchell had a nice double-double for Bama,13 points anbd 10 rebounds. Senario Hillman had 12 points.

Coming off a career high 19-point game, Charvez Davis didn't have as many points, but his two three-point shots in the final minutes were critical to the Alabama victory.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said, "I thought we got great effort from everyone tonight. It was a tough start. I think they hit their first seven or eight shots. But we knew it was going to be a 40 minute game. It was a great character game.

"This was a good road win for us. Now we've got to re-focus. We have Auburn coming in. We had a tough game at their place.

Hillman, who had been suspended for Alabama's previous game, came back with a vengeance. He had two key steals and scored 12 first half points—tying Justin Knox for the halftime Bama scoring lead. At intermission, the Tide was down by only three points at 39-36.

Hillman hit his first three shots, including two three-pointers. Ironically, he did not score in the second half.

Both teams hit 27-60 from the field with the Gamecocks making one more three-point shot, South Carolina going 8-25, Bama 7-17. But the home team couldn't make its free throws. Alabama hit 18-27, 67 per cent, while South Carolina could manage only 8-17, 47 per cent.

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