Bama basketball wins preseason opener

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Fans got their first look at head coach Anthony Grant's inaugural Alabama men's basketball team, and the Crimson Tide did not disappoint, beating Montevallo 81-53 in an exhibition game at Coleman Coliseum Wednesday night.

Five Alabama players scored in double figures but the Tide's high-pressure defense was the story, forcing the Falcons into 20 turnovers that led to 24 points. Senior guard Anthony Brock spearheaded UA's defensive pressure with five of the team's 10 steals.

"I told our guys after the game, from a defensive standpoint, I thought our energy was good," Grant said. "I thought there was an understanding of what I wanted from an effort standpoint. Certainly we'll look at this as a learning experience and an opportunity for us to get better as a basketball team."

Sophomore forward JaMychal Green posted a double-double and led the Tide in scoring with 18 points and 11 rebounds. All 18 of Green's points came in the second half, and he also blocked a game-high three shots. Junior forward Justin Knox nearly notched a double-double off the bench with 13 points and nine rebounds.

"I wasn't where I was supposed to be in the first half mentally," Green said. "I got a little frustrated because of my fouls. The second half I think I came out more aggressive. I had my head right and my teammates just got me the ball when I was open. My teammates and coaches got me prepared for the second half."

Senior guard Mikhail Torrance scored 12 points and dished out a game-high six assists, and his starting backcourt mate, sophomore Senario Hillman, added 10 points on four-of-five shooting. Junior college transfer guard Charvez Davis chipped in 11 points, including a trio of three-pointers, to round out the double-figure scorers for the Tide.

Alabama shot 48 percent (25-52) from the field and 41 percent (7-17) from three-point range for the game while holding Montevallo to 33 percent shooting (19-57) and 39 percent (5-13) from beyond the arc. The Tide outrebounded the Falcons, 47-31, and outscored the Falcons 16-7 on second chance points.

The Tide led by as many as 17 points in the first half and took a 39-25 lead into the break. Alabama held Montevallo to 28 percent shooting in the first frame and held the Falcons without a point from the 17:14 mark until 8:50 remained.

Alabama's pressure defense was exemplified by a sequence where Brock came up with a steal that led to a basket by Knox followed by Brock stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and dishing to Andrew Steele for another quick bucket that gave the Tide a 14-5 lead.

UA forced 12 turnovers prior to halftime and scored 13 points off those turnovers. Hillman led Alabama with 10 points at the break on 4-for-5 shooting including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Freddy Little led Montevallo in scoring with 17 points that included four three-point baskets. Little was the only Falcon to score in double figures.

"We'll look at this game, and obviously you're always happy to get a win, but my main focus, and I told them before the game, was being concerned with what we're doing, how we are playing in terms of our identity, and doing the things that we needed to do to get better as a basketball team,"  Grant said. "Overall I would say we made strides today, and we'll take this and try to grow from it."

Alabama plays one more exhibition game, hosting Augusta State on Tuesday, November 10, at Coleman Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.