Nov. 26, 2009
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Lake Buena Vista, Fla. -
A 22-point performance from sophomore JaMychal Green led the University of Alabama men's basketball team to a 79-76 win over Baylor in its opening game at the Old Spice Classic. Alabama built up a six-point halftime lead and never let the Bears within a possession in the final 15 minutes of the second half to improve to 3-1 on the season. Baylor was paced LaceDarius Dunn's 19 points.
Senior Mikhail Torrance added 20 points for the Tide, had six of the team's 17 assists in his second straight 20-point game and was 8-of-9 from the free throw line to help seal the win for the Tide.
"I thought our guys did a great job of weathering the storms that happened during the course of the game," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "This was a great growing game, great learning game for our guys."
The win was Alabama's second straight over an unbeaten team as the Bears fall to 4-1 on the season after succumbing to the Tide's staunch defensive pressure.
Alabama had a 10-point lead with four minutes left in the game but a 9-3 Baylor run keyed by a Dunn three-pointer and capped by a layup from the junior got the Bears within three at 74-71 with 42 seconds left to play. Alabama struggled to close the game out from the line, going 5-of-8 from the line in the final 42 seconds, but the defense forced the Bears' 0-of-3 shooting in the waning seconds until a meaningless desperation three-pointer from Ekpe Udoh went in as time expired. Udoh finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"We did a very good job from an offensive standpoint taking advantage of what they gave us and then defensively, limiting their opportunities taking away some of the strengths of their team," Grant said.
Thanks to a 6-0 run in the last 40 seconds of the half the Tide carried a 42-36 advantage into halftime. The final points on that spurt came via a Green fastbreak dunk in the final seconds off a pass from halfcourt from Anthony Brock. Green finished the half with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Baylor used an early 10-0 run to build up a 15-7 lead early in the half before a Tony Mitchell block in the paint led to a Torrance dunk that restarted the Tide offense. Slowly the Tide's defense generated opportunities for the offense as a Green block evolved into a layup for Hillman to cap an 8-0 run and give Alabama its first lead since the opening moments at 24-23 with 9:18 left in the period.
From there, neither team led by more than four points until the Tide's late charge gave it the six-point halftime lead. Alabama shot 53.3 percent in the half and had 11 assists with Torrance's four leading the way.
With the win, Alabama advances to face the winner of Thursday evening's Florida State versus Iona contest. Alabama meets the winner of that game on Friday at 4 p.m. CST on ESPN2.