Men's Basketball Wins at South Carolina, 79-70

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Junior guard Senario Hillman came off the bench to score 12 points.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
Junior guard Senario Hillman came off the bench to score 12 points.
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

March 3, 2010

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - Junior forward Justin Knox and senior guard Mikhail Torrance each scored 17 points while junior forward Chris Hines pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds as the Alabama men's basketball team overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks 79-70 on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena.

Freshman forward Tony Mitchell added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Crimson Tide (15-14, 5-10 SEC) which held a 46-26 rebounding edge versus the Gamecocks. Junior guard Senario Hillman came off the bench to score 12 points as the Tide notched its second Southeastern Conference road win of the season. Devan Downey led South Carolina (14-15, 5-10) with 23 points.

"To me, the game today was a great character win for our basketball team," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "It was great to see them come together and fight through the adversity we had to face and come out with the win."

Alabama held South Carolina to just three field goals over the final 11:38, outscoring the Gamecocks 25-11 in the process. Downey, the SEC's leading scorer at 22.5 points per game, was held to just four points over the final eight minutes.

The Tide garnered its first lead of the game, 62-59, at the 5:51 mark of the second half behind a three-point basket from junior guard Charvez Davis. Alabama, which had been as close as one point on two separate occasions, used a 9-2 run to finally seize the advantage.

The Gamecocks pulled within four points late in the game, but a 9-2 Alabama run, encompassing 49 of the game's final 69 seconds, sealed the victory.

"Our guys really kicked in from a defensive standpoint late in the game and were aggressive offensively," Grant said. "We were able to do the things we needed to do to come out with the win. Guys knocked down free throws and there were a lot of different scenarios that came up in which we showed great character."

The Gamecocks raced out to an 11-0 lead over the game's first 3:12, before Knox finally got Alabama on the board with a jump shot on an assist from Torrance. The Tide cut into the South Carolina margin over the next 5:18, knocking the Gamecock advantage down to 20-13 behind a combined nine points from Knox and Hillman.

However, hot shooting from South Carolina's Ramon Galloway, who scored nine of the Gamecock's next 11 points over a three-minute span, pushed the South Carolina lead to 31-17, its biggest of the night, at the 8:33 mark.

Up to that point, Alabama had committed 11 turnovers over the game's first 13 minutes. The Tide eventually settled down, outscoring the Gamecocks 14-3 over a stretch lasting 4:37 to make it 34-31. The Gamecocks turned the ball over five times, with the Tide cashing those in for six points. Additionally, Alabama held South Carolina to just one field goal during the run.

The deficit remained the same over the final minutes of the first half as South Carolina took a 39-36 halftime lead. Knox and Hillman each scored 12 points, respectively, to lead Alabama in the first half. The Crimson Tide held a 20-7 advantage in rebounds with Hines snagging six boards and Knox five.

Alabama wraps up the regular season portion of its schedule on Saturday at Coleman Coliseum against in-state rival Auburn. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (CST).