January 4, 2008

Tide defeats Chicago St. 93-79

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama Crimson Tide finished the non-conference portion of the season 11-4 after topping the Chicago State Cougars 93-79 on Friday night in Coleman Coliseum. After a shaky start in the first half, the Crimson Tide pulled away from the overmatched Cougars with junior Richard Hendrix leading the Tide with 19 points along with 13 rebounds and 4 blocks.

"At the end of the day, it's good to win," said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried. "I think we could have done a lot of things better, especially late in the game. The bottom line is, we took care of business and got the job done. We played very unselfishly. I like that about our team."

Despite being dominated on the glass, the Cougars kept their hopes alive in the first half thanks to 53 percent shooting from three-point range (7-of-13) but faded down the stretch as the Tide cut down on its errors and began hitting some perimeter shots of its own, going 6-for-16 from the arc in the first half.

"In the beginning of the game, we weren't gelling together like we should," said Tide guard Brandon Hollinger, who finished with 14 points and 5 assists. "At halftime, we came together and started picking up our defense and gelling together. It wasn't a convincing win like it should have been but we'll take the win."

Aside from turnovers (18), the Tide showed improvement in every area from Tuesday's game against Clemson including rebounds (46-31), shooting percentage (50.7 percent) and three-point percentage (43.5 percent).

"It feels like we're back on pace," Hollinger said. "We practiced hard this week and put the Clemson game in the past. We're moving forward. That's our first win, now we're going to try and get a streak going."

Also scoring in double-digits for the Tide were Alonzo Gee with 17 points and a team-best 14 rebounds, senior Mykal Riley with 18 points and 9 rebounds and freshman point guard Rico Pickett with 14 points and 7 assists.

The Tide begins SEC play on Tuesday night when they host the defending national champion Florida Gators in Coleman Coliseum.

"We're ready. It's going to be a big challenge every night," said Gee. "We've got to come to play every night. We're ready for the SEC, we're excited for it."

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