TUSCALOOSA| The Alabama Crimson Tide overcame rust in its opener to beat North Florida 64-44 and earn its first victory of the season. Senior JaMychal Green led the tide with 18 points, while Tony Mitchell finished right behind him with 17 points and 10 rebounds to earn his first double-double of the season.
“This is the beginning of a new season,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought our guys came out on the defensive end of the floor really carried us tonight.”
The Tide began the game sloppy, committing early fouls and turnovers and scoring only six points in the first 10 minutes of the game.
“We didn’t execute,” Grant said. “We were out of sync. I thought we took some early ill-advised shots within that time-frame. I thought we were playing out of character. I don’t know if it was nerves or anxiousness. Give credit to North Florida, they did a good job of preventing the ball being thrown to the low-post.”
However, a 13-1 run late in the first half put the Tide in control up 24-12 with 3:43 remaining in the half.
“They came out aggressive, which is something we need,” Green said. “We don’t need to go against an easy team. They came out very aggressive on defense. I think we still did a very good job going after them on defense, and our defense made offense for us.”
Alabama would head into halftime up 29-16, and the Tide would not look back. Leading 50-33 with 6:46 left in the game, the Tide began the onslaught, opening 14-3 run to slam the door on a dominating performance.
Alabama held a talented three-point shooting UNF to 14.3 percent (3-21) from behind the arc on the night.
“That was important,” Grant said. “Coming in Parker [Smith] and [Jerron] Granberry, we felt those guys were very dangerous from the three point line. I thought are guys had a level of alertness not to give them good looks.”
Freshman Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper went a combined 5-12 for the game with 18 points. Despite the solid performance, Grant said he still sees room for growth.
“I thought it is not consistent but you see signs of guys understanding what we got to do,” Grant said. “There is no substitute for experience. I think we are fortunate that those guys are getting valuable experience. Today we were able to win and learn, and that is really the most important thing when you have this many young guys.”
Lacey saw time at both point and shooting guard, something that Grant said will continue in the future.
“I think he has the ability to play a couple of positions,” Grant said. “We will continue to do that. I think with every game he will get more comfortable with what he’s got to do and what his role is on our team.”
Alabama’s will look to improve to 2-0 on Monday as the Tide take on Oakland at 7:00 in Coleman Coliseum.
“There are a lot of areas that you will look at and are pleased with the numbers,” Grant said. “But there are a lot of areas where we will have to see improvement going forward.”