The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team had little trouble with the Alabama A&M Bulldogs out of the SWAC conference. The Crimson Tide was back from their business trip to Puerto Rico, where they went 3-0 to capture the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship. After games against Maryland, Wichita State, and Purdue, Alabama A&M was a welcome break.
Anthony Grant used this game to rest star forward JaMychal Green, who is likely still not 100% from the elbow injury he suffered during the tournament. Along with Green sitting out, forward Tony Mitchell went out early in the game with a very scary ankle injury that had everybody in Coleman Coliseum and Tide fans everywhere holding their collective breaths.
The extent of the injury is not yet known, but Tony Mitchell was seen on crutches during the second half. The good news is that he was on the bench for much of the second half, and you have to think of the injury was really serious he would have been taken out of the building. It’s likely that Mitchell misses the next few games at least, but it appears that the worst was avoided with the injury. Obviously, Mitchell is important to the success of the team as they look to build on their 6-0 start. He has been the team’s best player so far this season, and losing him for an extended period of time would be a blow to the team’s chances.
In any case, all we can do is hope for the best.
Even without Green and Mitchell, Alabama cruised to a 82-45 victory over Alabama A&M. It was a collective effort by the ‘Bama basketball team with their two leaders out of the game. Along with Green and Mitchell out, Trevor Releford struggled with just six points on 1/6 shooting from the floor.
Rodney Cooper started the game on fire. He buried three quick three-pointers and scored 11 of the team’s first 15 points as Alabama broke out to a 15-1 start and never looked back. Cooper finished the game with 15 points and 3 rebounds. Charles Hankerson Jr. led the team in scoring with 16 points and 9 rebounds in his best game in a Crimson uniform.
Also, with Green out, Carl Engstrom made his first career start. He scored just 1 point, grabbed 7 rebounds, and fouled out pretty early in the second half. Instead of Engstrom really stepping up, the freshman Nick Jacobs stepped up in a big way with his first career double-double. Jacobs finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with a pair of blocked shots.
Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph also finished in double-figures. Lacey put in 12 points and 5 rebounds, while Randolph stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals.
Alabama really didn’t shoot the ball well, just 39% from the floor and 29% from three, but they got a lot of second-chance opportunities with 22 offensive rebounds. For the game, the Crimson Tide dominated the glass, outrebounding the Bulldogs 47-27. They had 8 guys with at least 3 rebounds.
Defensively, the Tide was their usual dominant self. Alabama A&M made just 11 field goals as they shot 24% from the field, and connected on just 1 of their 12 attempts from long range. They also forced 16 turnovers while committing just 6 of their own.
With the victory, Alabama is now 6-0 on the season, but the big takeaway from tonight’s game is the injury to junior Tony Mitchell. We will hear more about the injury in Grant’s post-game presser and in the coming days. It was a good sign to see him back on the bench, and the crutches could possibly just be a precaution.
This game with Alabama A&M afforded the Crimson Tide one final tune-up before they face the rest of their grueling non-conference schedule. They’ll take on VCU on Monday night at Coleman, and then play games against Georgetown, Dayton, Detroit, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State in December.
It’s been a great start to the season for Alabama’s basketball team, but the non-conference slate is about to heat up.