|Final - 11.18.2011||1||2||Total|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||31||39||70|
|Wichita St. Shockers||28||32||60|
"We're excited about the opportunity to play for a championship," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "That was the goal coming in. I thought it was a great effort tonight. I'm proud of the way our guys played and the focus and intensity they showed."
Shocker coaches felt they were facing two future NBA types in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Mitchell, in particular, looked great with 26 points and eight rebounds. Green went for 15 and 11. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford, from Bishop Miege, added 15 points and shot 11 free throws. The rest of the Tide combined for 14 points. Sometime, stars can trump depth.
The 16th-ranked Crimson Tide held Wichita State to 27 percent in the second half, Tony Mitchell scored 26 points and Alabama swatted away 14 shots in a 70-60 win over Wichita State on Friday night. "Their press is really good," Gregg Marshall said. "They take you out of sets. You have to beat the pressure, but if you do they have some guys in the back who can alter if not block shots. When we got past the pressure, we didn’t make the easy plays that you have to make to hurt the pressure."
Wichita State's bench outscored Alabama's reserves 25-6. The Shockers also had a 43-38 rebounding edge and shot 7 of 20 from 3-point range, with Ben Smith going 4 for 8. But all those the turnovers hurt, leading to 15 points for Alabama. "Great effort, great focus, great intensity," Grant said. "Our philosophy is to play pressure defense for all 40 minutes and I think our defensive pressure may have taken a toll on them toward the end of the game."
This was revenge. Tony Mitchell scored a game-high 26 points and No. 16 Alabama (4-0) blocked 14 shots in a 70-60 victory over Wichita State (2-1) tonight in the winner's bracket of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Crimson Tide avenged its 66-57 loss to the Shockers in the 2011 NIT championship game. JaMychal Green added 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and Trevor Releford also scored 15 points for Alabama, which will meet Purdue at 7 p.m. CST Sunday in the championship game. It will be televised by ESPN2. Releford sank 11 of 12 free-throw attempts.
The No. 15 Crimson Tide defeated the team that handed UA its last loss, downing Wichita State 70-60 to advance to the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Alabama will face Purdue in Sunday's championship game. Wichita State had beaten Alabama in last year's NIT finals in New York, but struggled against the Crimson Tide this season. Alabama blocked 14 shots in the game, just one shy of the school record. Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant downplayed the rematch aspect of the win. "We don't get a trophy for this game, this wasn't a championship game," Grant said. "This wasn't the NIT. But that game is in the past. Our guys stay in the present."
Today at 1 p.m. against Georgia Southern, some of those players will step into Bryant-Denny Stadium for their final home game. The 2008 recruiting class has been recognized as Saban's first full body of work at Alabama. But it's the fifth-year seniors, the '07 class, that took a calculated risk. "It was crazy," Alabama nose guard Josh Chapman said. "It was like, 'God, I don' t know if I want to go here or go there.' I was committed to Auburn for a long time. When coach (Saban) came in, I just felt he was going to start something new, and I wanted to start something new from going from high school up and to see what I could be successful at, and I made the right choice."
Hardie Buck was busing tables at a local chicken-wing house when the call came. It was Alabama football on the line. And Buck was told to turn in his apron for a football jersey. It was August 2009, and it had been 21⁄2 years since Buck put on football pads. In competitive athletics, 21⁄2 years is an eternity, and more than enough of a layoff to lay waste to a career in any sport, to say nothing of major college football. Now, Buck is a special teams player for the Crimson Tide, on both the kickoff and punt return units, but the path he traveled to get there required a level of persistence most couldn't fathom. Today, he'll be honored on Senior Day before the Crimson Tide's final home game of the season against Georgia Southern. And were it not for that persistence, he would be watching the Senior Day ceremony from the stands with nearly 102,000 others that never got to do what he has done: play for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama offensive lineman Alfred McCullough had two options when he became a senior backup to begin the season, according to Saban. "They can become guys that get disgruntled, don't really put the team first, kind of get the poor-me's about their circumstances, and don't really work to improve so that someday when they get an opportunity they'll be able to do it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "Well, Alfred sort of took the other road. And worked hard all the time, made a contribution every way that he could, was always excited about whenever he could play, affected some of the other guys, tried to help some of the other guys who were playing ahead of him."
Georgia Southern rush offense vs. Alabama rush defense: A 320-yard per game average for Georgia Southern is impressive, and don't be surprised if the Eagles pop a long run or two on Alabama's second unit in the second half. That said, it takes more than a rarely-used, old-school scheme to crack the best run defense in the country.
Passing game. Tide quarterback AJ McCarron has taken some external criticism in recent weeks. Today provides an opportunity for him to sharpen his game entering his first Iron Bowl start next week against Auburn.