TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama men's basketball team ended its losing streak on Sunday night, but perhaps more importantly, it seemed to win over its head coach after two consecutive defeats.
The No. 16 Crimson Tide defeated Detroit 62-54 at Coleman Coliseum but gave back a large portion of a big early lead before finishing off the Titans. Still, Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant lauded his team's defensive intensity.
"The focus for us tonight was to start on the defensive end," Grant said. "I thought this was a very dangerous team walking in tonight. Our guys came out in the first half with great intensity and great focus. There are certainly a lot of things we can take and learn from, but overall it's great to walk out with a win.
"I realize we are a young team, and we've still got to learn to maintain focus and intensity for a 40-minute game."
Senior JaMychal Green led Alabama (8-2) with 21 points before fouling out in the final minute. Tony Mitchell added 15 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Nick Jacobs, making his first career start, responded with a career-high 13 points, though he had zero rebounds.
"I felt like Nick earned it on the practice court and came out tonight and responded," Grant said. "You look at the numbers and you'd like to see better rebounding numbers, but overall I thought he was productive."
Said Green, "Nick brings a lot of physicality to the game. He can bang with the other team's biggest guys."
Alabama held the Titans without a field goal for the first six minutes of the game, breaking out to a fast 12-1 lead. The Tide pushed that lead to as many as 22 points, 38-16, with two minutes remaining in the first half.
"It was important for us to come out and jump on them early," Green said.
"The last two teams (Georgetown and Dayton) came out and punched us in the mouth first, so we wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth first tonight," Mitchell said.
But Detroit closed the half on a 6-0 run and continued to whittle away at the UA lead as the second half commenced.
"I'm disappointed in our slow start, but I thought Alabama had a lot to do with that," said Detroit coach Ray McCallum, Sr. "Mitchell and Green, we had no answer for them in the first half. In the second half, we were able to get some confidence and cut into the lead, but Alabama was able to finish out the game."
The Titans were able to reduce the final deficit to eight points despite not making a 3-point shot (0-of-12) in the game.
The Titans were also hurt when a technical foul call against Doug Anderson with 10:06 remaining. That resulted in a Green free throw and a Green layup on the ensuing possession, pushing an 11-point UA lead back to 14 points, 49-35
"It was terrible timing for us, and I never got an explanation," McCallum said. "Our player said he never said anything."
Ray McCallum, Jr., the son of the head coach, led Detroit (5-7) with 13 points.
Alabama will not be back in action until Saturday, when the Crimson Tide faces Kansas State in Kansas City, Mo.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.