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November 23, 2012

Alabama holds off Charleston Southern

TUSCALOOSA | In a game that never seemed to have a rhythm, the University of Alabama men's basketball team managed to get hot in three separate stretches and survive some unattractive stretches in between, holding off Charleston Southern 59-46 on Friday night.

Alabama had at least one five-minute drought in each half but finished off the Buccaneers with a 12-5 run over the final five minutes.

"I thought in the second half, the overall impact of our defensive intensity wore them down," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said.

Trevor Releford led Alabama with 22 points.

"He is shooting the ball with confidence," Grant said. "It is something we work on in practice every day."

Carl Engstrom had six points and a career-high eight rebounds in what he called "one of my best games" at Alabama. Trevor Lacey had nine points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals.

The Crimson Tide press seemed to bother Charleston Southern in the early going as UA built a 9-0 lead, but the Bucs came back to take a five-point lead at 18-13. Alabama closed the half on a 10-0 run over the final 2:08 to take a 36-27 lead at the break.

Despite a slow-paced second half - Alabama made just one of 16 shots to start the second period - the Crimson Tide was able to pull away.

There were two technical fouls called in the half, one on each team, with Grant drawing the call on Alabama.

"I think it was just two teams playing hard and wanting to win," Grant said. "It was a clean game."

Alabama played without starting forward Rodney Cooper, sidelined by tendinitis in his left shoulder.

"He injured himself in New York and hasn't been able to practice," Grant said of Cooper. "Right now, we are treating it as day-to-day."

Alabama (5-0) held Charleston Southern (1-4) to just 33 percent shooting from the floor.

"We were just out of rhythm," Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. "We couldn't score, and that's not like us. We were 22nd in the nation in scoring last year and we scored 46 points.

"I thought we imploded down the stretch," Radebaugh said. "We were down six points with five minutes left and let it get away."

Charleston Southern made six of its first nine 3-point shots in building its first-half lead but made just one of 12 after that. Paul Gombwer and Saah Nimley each scored 10 points to pace Charleston Southern.

TideSports.com Recruiting: Football prospects visiting for the Iron Bowl

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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