A new year brings new beginnings and new hope, right? Unfortunately for Anthony Grant and the Alabama men’s basketball team it did just the opposite. Monday night’s exhibition match-up against Division II opponent West Georgia looked like a re-run from the Tide’s mid-December slump a year ago.
Alabama was able to narrowly escape the Wolves in overtime by a final of 65-64, but it wasn’t pretty. Senior guard Trevor Releford had to take total control of the team to save the game and eventually ice it in the extra period.
Releford led all scorers with 27 points from the field including several clutch free throws down the stretch.
Alabama head coach Anthony Grant stayed calm for most of the game and allowed his game plan to take shape. Within the first five minutes all but two of Alabama’s starters had scored and both Shannon Hale and Jimmie Taylor were on the floor.
The Tide’s lack of a strong post player was still evident, but a newcomer offered some hope for Alabama’s biggest weakness. Freshman forward Jimmie Taylor showed promise down low for the Tide collecting 7 blocks and 6 rebounds in his first collegiate game. A much lighter and more conditioned Nick Jacobs finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
The Tide’s offense sputtered all night and while the defense held West Georgia to just 55 points in regulation, Alabama’s play on the defensive side of the ball was just too inconsistent.
Coach Grant wasn’t pleased by the margin of victory, but offered some takeaways from the narrow victory. “Hopefully, it was a wakeup call for some guys in terms of the physicality that they’re going to have to be able to play with to have success.” He said, “It’s an exhibition game. It’s a good tune up for us.”
Grant and his team will travel to Dallas to face Oklahoma on Friday, November 8 at American Airlines Center. The Sooners received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last season and will provide an early season test for the Tide.
Friday’s game will be televised by FSN Southwest and radio coverage will be provided by the Crimson Tide Sports Network.
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