Alabama’s players pose for pictures at the end of the Puerto Rico Tip-off NCAA tournament final game against Purdue in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday Nov. 20, 2011. Alabama won 65-56. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
|Final - 11.20.2011||1||2||Total|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||24||41||65|
"We, as a team, understand that we have time to progress and get better," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "We understand that we haven’t scratched the surface of where we could be."
A big second-half run helped No. 16 Alabama beat Purdue 65-56 in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic college basketball tournament. Trevor Releford scored 20 points to lead the Crimson Tide, who have started their season 5-0 for the first time since 2006. Releford, Alabama's point guard, also passed out five assists and grabbed four rebounds. Alabama — which shot 51.9 percent (14-for-27) from the field in the final 20 minutes — put together a 19-4 run midway through the second half on its way to its first regular-season tournament crown since winning the Las Vegas Classic championship in 2007.
"Purdue did a great job defending us and made it hard for us to score in the first half," Green said. "Our mindset for this was defending the 3 point line and rebounding." Alabama held the Boilermakers to 36 percent shooting (20 of 56). "I felt that our guys did a good job," Painter said. "Our issue sometimes was when we got in transition. "I thought Alabama's pressure and their guards really hit us hard. We just have to regroup and continue to work hard but we have to work harder on being physical without fouling and being productive.
"Their game plan to focus on (Green and Mitchell)," said Alabama coach Anthony Grant. "It was good to see some of the other guys step up. It was a great lesson, a building block to understand how certain teams will take things away from you and how to take advantage. Offensively, we had some guys make plays, Trevor Releford and Levi Randolph, and then I thought some other guys like Ben Eblen and Rodney Cooper really gave us some good minutes defensively. "But the bottom line is you are never as good or as bad as you think. Last year, we went to a tournament (the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas) and went 0-3. This year, we're 3-0. But we still have to do the same thing, which is leave here and continue to get better."
The Tide was led offensively by sophomore Trevor Releford’s 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The point guard added five assists and four rebounds. Junior Tony Mitchell recorded his 10th career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Mitchell went 6-of-12 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. Nine of his 10 boards were on the defensive end. For his efforts, Mitchell was named the tournament MVP after averaging 19 points and 9.7 rebounds over the past three games. "I thought he had a great tournament," Grant said of Mitchell. "He's done a great job on both ends of the floor and rebounding. The benefit of having a guy like Tony is he understands the expectations of our program and doing a great job of leading our young guys."
Don't look now, but Alabama is building an NCAA tournament resume. Already. The No. 16 Crimson Tide improved its record to 5-0 tonight by winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a 65-56 victory over Purdue (4-1) at San Juan, Puerto Rico. The last time Alabama was 5-0 was 2006.
We all knew that eventually a loss was coming. We saw improvement, especially on offense, against Iona and Temple, but Alabama was always going to be the best possible team to face this early in the year. They had dominated Maryland (never easy) and stifled a possible NCAA team in Wichita State. Coming in, it was almost the exact opposite we were used to. We were the high scoring team, while Alabama was playing in your jersey defense. In the end, they out-Purdue'ed us. They attacked relentlessly on defense and caused turnovers that led to a number of dunks in transition. We were able to recover from an early 12-point deficit and even led at a couple of points, but in the end we were not able to take advantage of the opportunities given us.