The Tide rised back to .500 with a 76-50 win over Alabama A&M. Charles Hankerson got the first start of his young career in place of the suspended Green. Hankerson made the most of his opportunity, playing very good defense, making a 3 pointer, protecting the basketball, and scoring 8 points. Tony Mitchell really stepped up his game down low, pulling down 15 reboundings and adding 12 points. We had 4 players score in double digits, with Chris Hines giving us a solid 10 in the post and Charvez Davis adding 11 from the perimeter. Ben Eblen even scored 6, going 3 for 4 on layups.
It was obvious from the start of the game that the Bulldogs would not be able to hang. We went on an early run to build the lead and never looked back. We did get a little sloppy about midway through the first half when AAMU finally realized they couldn't play a full court game with us and switched to a 2-3 zone. We were much more crisp in the halfcourt offense later in the half and in the 2nd half. The intensity and energy was much better than it has been the last 2 games, with the guys on the bench seeming much more into the game and vocal.
Jason Carter suffered an injury in the 2nd half, which was unfortunate because he was playing a very good game. He appeared to be in a lot of pain and the trainers spent a fair amount of time checking out his right knee. He did not return, but appeared to be walking much better by the end of the game. With JaMychal's suspension we are already very thin in the post. Hopefully Carter will be okay.
I criticize the officials a fair amount on here and at the games, but they have a difficult and thankless job and for the most part they do the best they can. Rick Hartzell, one of the officials, was injured in the 2nd half when an Alabama A&M player dived to save a ball and knocked him into the scorer's table. He appeared to hit his side on the padded edge of the table, but with the weight of the rather large bulldog upon him. It took him several minutes to catch his breath before going back to the locker room to be looked at. He returned several minutes later, but after running up and down the court twice, realized he could not make it and walked back off. I sincerely hope his injury is not too serious and he makes a speedy recover. He was in the right position at the time, it was just one of those fluke plays and he had nowhere to go.
Without knowing the full story, I will not offer an opinion on Green's suspension. At this point, I trust Coach Grant and hope it's the best decision for all involved. I hope it is something minor and he is able to return soon.
The crowd at the game was pathetic, maybe 3,000 or so in attendance. AAMU brought a fair amount of fans, including one who apparently thought he was on the coaching staff. Sporting a maroon coat and tie, he literally stood on the front step behind AAMU's basket for the first 10 minutes of the game shouting instructions to his team loudly enough for the entire gym to hear. UAPD officers finally sent him to his seat, where he was shown several times on the jumbotron throughout the rest of the game looking rather displeased.
Up next, the South Alabama Jaguars come to Tuscaloosa for an approximate 7:30 pm tipoff Wednesday night at Coleman. I say approximate, because the game will actually start 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women's game against Alabama State, which will tip off at 5 p.m. So if you have time, get there a little early and support the women too, who are having a very good season with only one close loss to a top 15 team.