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December 30, 2009TUSCALOOSA _ It wasn't what University of Alabama men's basketball coach Anthony Grant wanted, but when the game was on the line his team responded.
After being up by only two points with 6:11 remaining, the Crimson Tide missed only one shot the rest of the game to pull out a 77-65 victory at Coleman Coliseum on Wednesday night.
"I think we're fortunate to win tonight," Grant said. "When you look at the way the game played out, I thought down the stretch we were able to play with the type of urgency and understanding we should have had for 40 minutes."
After no one had more than five points in the first half, sophomore forward JaMychal Green finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, while three teammates landed in double figures. Junior guard Senario Hillman scored 16, senior guard Mikhail Torrance 14 and junior forward Justin Knox 10.
"I thought Senario played, in the second half especially, very unselfishly," Grant said. "He made the right pass, made the right play several times. He had opportunities where he was able to go in and finish on the interior, or at least get good shots. He also had some opportunities where the defense helped up on him and he was able to dump it down to get some other guys opportunities, so I was very pleased with that."
Alabama (9-4) shot 70 percent (14 of 20) during the final 20 minutes, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
"I knew I had to step up for my team," said Green, who also had five blocks. "They found me when I was open. They gave me the ball."
But playing without freshman forward Tony Mitchell, who was sidelined with flu-like symptoms, Alabama mostly went with seven players. Although the Tide had a 40-14 scoring advantage in the paint, the lack of depth showed in the bench scoring, where Tennessee State had a 25-11 edge.
The Tigers (3-10) were able to create 16 turnovers, made 11 3-pointers (the most Alabama has yielded this season, but gave up just one during the final 8:20), and had a slight edge in rebounds, 33-32.
"We weren't at the top of our game in those areas," Grant said.
Josh Sain led Tennessee State with 18 points, while Wil Peters had 16 and Jacquan Nobles 15.
However, every time TSU threatened to take a lead in the second half, Alabama somehow made a play and the Tigers never managed to even tie. The Tide scored on 10 of its last 11 possessions, including 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, to put the game away in front of 9,799 fans.
"No excuses, we should have came out and played like we should have," Green said.
Women: Alabama 87, Southern Miss 61
Coach Wendell Hudson may have gotten what he wanted for the holidays, some better post play.
Led but junior guard Varisia Raffington's 21 points and senior center Courtney Strauthers' career-high 15, the Crimson Tide routed Southern Miss 87-61 in its final tune-up for Southeastern Conference play.
"Most of it just had to do with the way we're practicing," said Raffington, who rolled her ankle during the game but it isn't considered serious. "We've been going non-stop and exploring all of our options on offense.
"We're also going inside more and having an inside-out game. We just had the best of both worlds tonight."
Three other players finished in double-digits, with sophomore guard Ericka Russell scoring 14, sophomore center Carmen McCoy 13, and senior guard Dedrea Magee 10. With Alabama scoring 46 points in the paint, it opened things up for the guards, who hit seven 3-pointers.
"We had to show them that we could finish," Strauthers said. "We're trusting each other more."
Alabama improved to 8-5 and will host Georgia on Jan 3. Pauline Love led Southern Miss (4-8) with 24 points and Candace Rucker scored 20.
"Right now we're playing with a lot of confidence," Hudson said. "We have a chance. We're pretty excited about conference play."