Jan. 4, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team used a strong second-half defensive effort to overcome an early deficit as the Crimson Tide defeated Robert Morris 64-56 Saturday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum to close out the non-conference portion of the 2013-14 season.
"It was nice to get this win at home in this final non-conference game," UA Head Coach Anthony Grant said. "In the first half, it seemed like a lot of things weren't going right. We were missing layups, turning the ball over and it was hard to keep our energy up. I'm proud of our guys that they stayed with it. With the press in the second half, we were able to force some turnovers and get out in transition. Our guys fed off that energy and we had a lot of positive things."
Alabama (6-7) forced a season-high 12 steals, 10 in the second half, to score 26 points off turnovers. The Tide's bench played a key role as well, out-scoring the Robert Morris (5-10) bench 24-6. Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan and junior center Carl Engstrom led the Tide bench in scoring with a combined 20 points, while senior guard Trevor Releford led all players with 18 points.
"Our energy was really good," Grant said. "From a defensive standpoint our team was able to maintain the effort and energy. There were a lot of plays out there with turnovers and loose balls where our guys really fed off that energy. When they were trying to drive the ball, we were able to come up with deflections and loose balls and come out in transition. Tonight wasn't one of our prettiest performances but I'm proud of our guys for finding a way to close out the game."
The Colonials got off to a hot start, scoring nine unanswered to open the game before Alabama got on the board thanks to a Rodney Cooper free throw. The Tide would continue to chip away at the lead, using a late 10-4 run to make it a three-point game at the half, trailing 23-20.
Alabama continued to fight in the second half, as a Releford three-pointer on the back end of a 9-0 run gave the Tide its first lead of the game, 31-30. The lead stayed in the Tide's favor the rest of the game, as Alabama cruised to an eight-point victory.
Alabama will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 7, when it welcomes the Vanderbilt Commodores to Coleman Coliseum in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. The contest will tipoff at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPNU. For all the latest information on the team, follow AlabamaMBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can be found @UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.