TUSCALOOSA | The smallest player in an Alabama uniform came up with the Crimson Tide's biggest rebound - and decisive basket - on Monday night.
Point guard Trevor Releford's offensive rebound and putback basket denied the UAH Chargers a potential game-tying possession as Alabama won its preseason exhibition game in typical hard-fought fashion, 67-60, before a Coleman Coliseum crowd estimated at over 10,000 fans.
UA went to double overtime in last year's exhibition win over UAH.
"The reason we schedule this game is because we have great respect for UAH," UA coach Anthony Grant said. "We learned a lot about ourselves from playing them last year and again tonight. They are a very difficult team to defend with the 3-point shoots they put on the floor.
"JaMychal did a great job and we dominated inside, but obviously at this point, we are not where we need to be in terms of polish and execution."
Alabama, with freshmen Cooper and Randolph in the starting lineup, got off to a quick start in the game, jumping to a 17-5 lead in the first six minutes. UAH got back in the contest late in the half, closing with a 7-2 run in the final two minutes and cutting its halftime deficit to 34-26 on Jaime Smith's 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds remaining before the break.
The Chargers kept things close for the entire second half, finally making it a one-possession contest with 1:51 remaining on three free throws by guard Jaime Smith. Tony Mitchell answered with a basket and free throw with 1:18 to go, but Smith - who led all scorers with 27 points - was again fouls in the act of shooting a 3-point shot and converted all three free throws, cutting the Crimson Tide lead to 63-60 with 1:09 to play.
UA had to call a timeout with just three seconds remaining on the shot clock in its ensuing possession, and Trevor Lacey's shot went off the rim. But Releford was able to gather the rebound and hit an off-balance layup, giving the Crimson Tide a 65-60 lead.
"I thought Coach was going to yell at me, because I was supposed to be balancing the floor," Releford said. "But it came right in my hands so I put it back in there."
UAH could not score again and Tony Mitchell finished the game with a dunk in the last second.
Green had 21 points, including a 3-pointer, and grabbed seven rebounds. Releford added 12 points for UA. Smith was the only double-figure scorer for UAH.
Alabama will open its regular season against North Florida on Friday night.
"I told the guys that it gets real from now on, but it was good to see us in this situation and see some things that we can tinker with," Grant said.