Alabama, coming from as many as twelve points down, scratched and clawed its way to the biggest win of the Anthony Grant era over the 15th ranked Michigan Wolverines. Michigan seemed to shoot threes almost at will for the first 25 minutes of this game while Alabama's guards could barely buy a trey. Most of Bama's early offense came underneath the basket as the guards tried to work the ball around Michigan's 1-3-1 zone. On the other end of the court, Michigan kept hitting threes and finding open looks underneath the basket.
The Tide got into early foul trouble, Hillman being the first player from either team to head to the bench with two fouls well within the first ten minutes of the first half. His presence was sorely missed on the defensive end where his quickness was helping to pressure the Big Blue ball handlers. Defensive intensity increased dramatically when he was inserted back into the lineup in the second half.
Torrance, who did not score many points in the first half, came on to hit a huge three and to make an important dish that finally gave the Tide a lead with about four minutes to go in the game. Knox had an important bucket and hit one of two free throws to maintain a one point Alabama advantage.
At the end of the game it was Green who made the last two big plays. Alabama rebounded a missed Michigan shot with about 32 seconds left on the game clock. Torrance dribbled around near mid-court killing all but about 12 seconds. Green, who eventually was voted the player of the game and scored 20 points, fielded a missed shot and slammed the rebound through the hoop. Then on the other end he swatted away Michigan's layup attempt before it could get to the hoop.
The win is the most important event of the night. The poise and patience necessary to work their way slowly back into a game they easily could have abandoned in the second half comes not far behind. Finally, the quality minutes earned by several of our new players against a quality opponent were extremely valuable.
I'm sure BobbyJack will post some more poignent comments and the game stats soon. DJC was at the game in Orlando. Hopefully MSmilie saw the game.