February 1, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Georgia native Senario Hillman seemed determined not to lose to his home state team, no matter how many times the Georgia Bulldogs knocked him to the floor and out of the game.
Hillman shook off a hard foul to score 19 points and senior Alonzo Gee scored 20 points to lead Alabama to a 75-70 win in the home debut of interim Tide coach Phillip Pearson.
"We talked in the locker room about coming out and setting the tone," said Pearson. "I felt like our guys, other than a little lull in the first half, handled their pressure well. I asked our guys to play hard, play smart and play together. I put that on the (locker room) board.
"Our guys have had a tough week, with a lot of things going on, and they''ve hung in there real well. Everybody contributed to the win."
Pearson is now 1-1 after the Monday resignation of Mark Gottfried.
"Coach Phillip, he''s a great coach," said Alabama freshman JaMychal Green. "He knows what he''s doing."
Asked if the Tide can turn its season around, Green said, "It''ll take confidence, playing together as a team, and playing tough." .
Hillman left the game twice in the second half. Just 1:12 in, Georgia''s Jeremy Price took him to the ground with a hard foul, and later he appeared to briefly re-injure himself on a breakaway slam dunk.
He returned to the court after both incidents.
The sophomore from Irwinton, Ga., made 3 of 4 shots behind the 3-point arc, a rarity.
" These guys work on their shooting every day after practice, with managers," said Pearson. "That''s something we''re going to continue to do -- get a little bit of inside (play), and a little bit of outside."
Gee credited Pearson for the win.
"(Pearson) helped us out a lot, with the offense he ran and the defense he ran," said Gee. "Its really good to get one for him, just because of the all the things that have gone on the last couple of weeks. It means a lot, just coming out aggressive from the start, and finishing strong."
Green, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Georgia''s Trey Tompkins led all scorers with 22 points, while grabbing 14 rebounds.
Terrance Woodbury scored 15 points and Dustin Ware scored 11 for Georgia (9-12, 0-6 SEC).
" Just an emotional roller coaster," said Pete Herrmann, who is Georgia''s interim coach after Dennis Felton was fired. "Tonight was very different and very tough. I thought that we got good effort and good unselfishness.
"We''re going to continue to be enthused and excited about playing in the SEC. I really thought Alonzo and Senario were very tough and very clutch, as older players should be. After recruiting (Hillman) like I did since the ninth grade, I asked him, ''What are you doing?'' You try to cut off his drives, and he makes (jump shots)."
Alabama led 40-35 at the half, aided by a Green dunk during an 8-0 run
Georgia out-rebounded Alabama 39-36.
Alabama had a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers. Georgia turned the ball over 20 times to 16 turnovers for the Tide.
Alabama (13-8, 3-3) will travel to Vanderbilt for a 6 p.m. game Thursday.