The Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team improved to 7-0 on the season with a 72-64 victory over the VCU Rams for their 24th straight victory inside Coleman Coliseum. It was a tough, physical game, but that was expected going up against a team like VCU coming off an incredible run to the Final Four a year ago. While they lost a lot of meaningful contributors, they are still a talented and extremely well coached team.
Just like Alabama, VCU makes its living on the defensive end of the floor and they made life tough for the Crimson Tide for most of the night. Alabama had to overcome a poor shooting night from beyond the arc, connecting on just 1 of their 11 attempts from three. But, overall Alabama did shoot 52% from the floor.
This was far and way the toughest game this season for the Crimson Tide, and for the first time this season they trailed after the first 20 minutes with the Rams taking a 33-32 lead at the half. It didn’t appear to be Alabama’s night as the second half got going. With a little under 14 minutes remaining, Bradford Burgess drilled a three to put VCU up 50-44, giving them their biggest lead of the night.
Trailing 55-50 with 10:35 remaining, the Tide turned and Alabama finished the game on a 22-9 run. It started with a nice hook shot in the lane my Nick Jacobs, followed by a nice 15-foot jump shot by JaMychal Green to cut the VCU lead to one. After a bucket by VCU, JaMychal Green hit a pair of free throws followed by a sweet and-1 jumper by Trevor Releford that put Alabama in the lead 59-57 for the first time since the 15 and a half minute mark of the second half.
After a Bradford Burgess three-pointer to give the lead back to VCU, JaMychal Green stepped up and hit a pair of free throws to give the lead back to Alabama. Up by 1, Tony Mitchell hit 1 of 2 from the line, and Trevor Lacey and Rodney Cooper hit consecutive layups to go up 66-60.
Following a pair of Rob Brandenburg free throws, Alabama had a chance to put the game away after a flagrant foul called on VCU’s Troy Daniels for pushing Tony Mitchell from behind on what looked to be an easy dunk attempt. But, Mitchell could only make 1 of two free throws to extend the ‘Bama lead to 67-62, and then was called for a charge to put the ball back into the Rams’ hands.
Mitchell made up for it with a steal and after being fouled he hit two free throws to put Alabama up 7. A few more Alabama foul shots gave the Crimson Tide a 72-64 victory over Anthony Grant’s former team and his successor Shaka Smart.
JaMychal Green played his best game of the season when Alabama needed him most. He put up a monster double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds in the victory to go along with 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. VCU had no answer for him all night long as he made 8 of his 12 shot attempts.
Tony Mitchell gritted out an ankle injury to finish with 13 points, but he was only able to corral 1 rebound. He didn’t have much lift off of the injured ankle and was unable to get rebounds he normally would have. In any case, he toughed out 28 minutes when he probably should have been sitting out.
Trevor Releford struggled with the tempo of the game, and at times played completely out of control. He finished with 9 points, 3 boards, 1 assist, and 3 turnovers. With Releford struggling, Alabama got big minutes out of freshman Trevor Lacey. He actually played more than Releford, 29 minutes to Trevor’s 23. Lacey scored 6 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and turned the ball over just one time.
Nick Jacobs is earning more and more minutes each game. He played 15 minutes tonight and hit 3 of his 4 shot attempts for 6 points. He also had a pair of rebounds and blocked shots.
It wasn’t the best of performances for the Crimson Tide, but in the end a win is a win, and the Crimson Tide have won their first seven to start the 2011-12 season and are living up to all the preseason hype.
Things get no easier for the 13th ranked Crimson Tide as they return to the hardwood on Thursday night to host Georgetown.