Nov. 20, 2011
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico- The No. 16/15 Alabama men’s basketball team claimed its first regular season tournament title since 2007 as it downed Purdue, 65-56, to win the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Sunday night from the Coliseo de Puerto Rico. The Crimson Tide starts the season 5-0 for the first time since 2006.
“I'm really proud of our team,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. “Tonight was like a heavy weight fight between two very good teams. I was pleased to see how we persevered and prevailed with the win.”
The stingy defense once again proved to be the difference as Alabama held Purdue(4-1) to just 35 percent (20-for-56) shooting in the contest and used a 19-4 run midway through the second half to seal the victory.
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."
UA shot 43 percent (23-for-53) from the floor and was 14-for-18 (78 percent) from the charity stripe. Releford was 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Senior JaMychal Green chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds while newcomer Levi Randolph added 12 points and six boards.
Entering the contest, the Boilermakers were shooting 45 percent from three and were averaging 80 points per game, but could only muster a 23 percent clip against the Tide. Robbie Hummel paced Purdue with 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting, adding a 1-for-7 clip from three. He was 6-for-6 from the line.
"They’ve got some great three-point shooters on their team and our mindset coming in was to defend the three-point line and rebound and I think we did a good job of that tonight," Green said.
The tournament title was the first for the Tide since 2007, when UA claimed the Las Vegas Classic championship. Alabama improved to 11-3 all-time on the island territory of Puerto Rico and earned its 31st regular season tournament title.
The two teams went back-and-forth throughout the game as Purdue seemed to always have an answer with a run of its own after the Tide would seize a lead. UA raced out of the gates to an 11-0 lead but the Boilermakers would come back to tie the game at 17 with four minutes left in the half. The Tide would enter the locker room with a 24-23 lead at the intermission.
Purdue would take a 30-28 lead with 14:04 left in the game but it would be the last time the score would be in their favor. Releford tied the score at 30 with a layup with 13:41 left and then UA claimed the lead for good on a Mitchell three with 11:45 remaining.
It was a lead the Tide would not relinquish as it put away the Boilermakers by racing out to its largest lead of the game, a 56-41 advantage with 3:33 left.
Alabama will return home to Tuscaloosa to host Alabama A&M on Wednesday, Nov. 23, in Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., CT.