When coach Anthony Grant looks back at this 2011-2012 basketball team, he will probably focus on the aspect of overcoming adversity, something this team has had to do a lot of lately. Short-handed on the bench, and short in stature on the court, the Alabama Crimson Tide found a way to overcome the absence of their three best post players to defeat the streaking Tennessee Volunteers by a score of 62-50 in front of a crowd of 12,988 at Coleman Coliseum. Playing without suspended star forwards JaMychal Green, a senior, and Tony Mitchell, a junior, and without freshman phenom forward Nick Jacobs, who was out with a tooth infection, the Tide turned to several freshman guards and some reserve centers to secure the victory over the Vols, who came in to the game on a 4 game winning streak. Coach Grant was quick to offer praise to his entire team, and several players in particular.
"There were so many guys who stepped up today," Grant said. "It was great to see Moussa Gueye play hard and be aggressive defensively. Trevor Releford was a big boost for us emotionally. Trevor Lacey stepped up in a big way by being aggressive as well and taking control of the game the way he did against a good Tennessee team. All of our guys did a great job today."
Alabama, who improved to 17-9 and 6-6 in the Southeastern Conference, was led in scoring by the freshman Lacey and his 18 points. He also had 4 steals. Sophomore guard Releford had 13 points and 5 steals, while senior guard Andrew Steele also had 5 steals and a career high 7 assists to go along with his 10 points. The Tide was led in the front-court by sophomore center Carl Engstrom and his 7 points and 7 rebounds. Engstrom, who is from Sweden, has only been playing basketball for 3 years. Overall, Grant said the Tide's preparation this week in practice paid off against the Vols.
"It was great for the team to be locked in to our game plan and complete the task at hand," Grant said. "They put in a lot of hard work this week. We had a great week of preparation."
Tennessee was led in scoring by Jeronne Maymon, who had 20 points. The Vols now fall to 14-13 overall and 6-6 in Southeastern Conference play.
Next up for the Tide is a Thursday night trip to Fayetteville to take on the Hogs of Arkansas. Tip-off is scheduled for 6pm CT.