TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama men's basketball team beat the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 68-44 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at Coleman Coliseum Tuesday.
Senior guard Charvez Davis, sophomore forward Tony Mitchell and freshman guard Trevor Releford each scored 12 points to lead the Crimson Tide. Senior guard Senario Hillman scored 11 points to go along with seven rebounds while junior forward JaMychal Green pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for Alabama (22-11).
"We're excited about this win," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "Obviously we knew Coastal Carolina was a dangerous team, they had a great season. For us, the emphasis on defense was making sure that we came out and played to our identity and I thought our guys did that tonight. I thought we were very effective in getting the tempo up the way we wanted. We were able to get out in transition and have success in the open floor. I'm just proud of the effort from our guys here tonight."
In the second half, Hillman became the 44th member of Alabama's 1,000-point club. He finished the game 1,005 career points at UA, joining Green who has already reached the 1,000-point plateau and now has 1,239 career points. Hillman also needs just one more steal to tie Terry Coner as the all-time leader in that category with 174 after garnering two steals against CCU.
One of four No. 1 seeds in the 32-team NIT, Alabama held Coastal Carolina (28-6) to its lowest point total of the year and 33 points under its average of 77.4 in winning its 17th game at Coleman Coliseum, tying the school record for home wins in one season. The Tide scored 29 points off 19 CCU turnovers while placing four or more scorers in double figures for the tenth time this season. Alabama never trailed and led by many as 30 points in picking up the program's 18th overall victory in the NIT and the first in Grant's tenure as a head coach.
Leading 38-22 at halftime, the Crimson Tide used a 13-0 run at the outset of the second half to pull in front of the Chanticleers 54-27 at the 13:46 mark. Alabama forced turnovers on six of seven CCU possessions to spark the run, converting each turnover into a basket on the offensive end. The Tide pushed the margin to as much as 30, never holding a lead of less than 23 points the rest of the way to the victory.
"What we tried to do is hurry them up a little bit and get them to play our tempo, get them out of rhythm and out of sorts so to speak," Grant said.
Mitchell came off the bench to provide a spark at the outset of the first half, igniting a 10-0 Alabama run with back-to-back three pointers that gave the Tide an 18-7 lead at the 12:19 juncture of the half.
The Tide has now won four-straight NIT home contests and is 4-2 all-time in NIT games at Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama will face the victor of UTEP vs. New Mexico at a time and date to be determined.