January 13, 2011 8:54:00 AM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.-- The University of Alabama men''s basketball team won its Southeastern Conference home opener Wednesday night with a 57-47 victory against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
Junior center JaMychal Green had 20 points to lead the Crimson Tide (10-6, 2-0 SEC), while sophomore forward Tony Mitchell had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Alabama led 26-21 at halftime and used a 10-3 run from the 13-minute, 45-second mark to the 7:46 mark to pull away in the second half. The Tide held the Gamecocks scoreless IN the final 1:48 to ice the victory.
"I''m really proud of our guys," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "I thought they came out with great energy and great purpose tonight. Our defense tonight was outstanding. There was great energy in the building. I think our student section set records tonight. It was loud and it was awesome. It gave our guys a big boost and this is a big win for our guys."
The Crimson Tide defense set the tone from the opening possession, where Alabama forced South Carolina (10-5, 1-1) into a shot clock violation, followed closely by two straight steals by Chris Hines. Alabama built a 15-7 lead over the first ten minutes of the ball game led by Green''s six points.
The Crimson Tide held the Gamecocks to 23-percent shooting in that span, and just 28.6 percent shooting for the game, the second time under Grant that Alabama has held an SEC opponent to less than 30 percent shooting.
Sophomore guard Ben Eblen snapped an Alabama scoring drought late in the first half with a layup with 3:58 left in the first half. The crowd was energized to fever pitch when Tony Mitchell got the ball on a fast break following an Eblen steal and dunked to thunderous applause.
"We knew they were a great shot blocking team," Grant said. "Their defense creates turnovers and they rush you a little bit. I thought we rushed some. We missed a lot of things inside such as a lot of layups that they contested."
At 2-0, Alabama is off to its best conference start since 2002. The Crimson Tide will play Saturday at Arkansas before returning home to play host to Kentucky at 8 p.m. Tuesday.