Balanced Alabama beats South Florida 82-71.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama coach Anthony Grant emphasized that it was a team win as Alabama defeated South Florida 82-71 Tuesday night.
''Let me make it clear. It was not about any one player. It was a team win,'' he said.
The Crimson Tide players echoed his comments. Asked about Alabama's team balance Ricky Tarrant said, ''We play together. We play to our strengths.''
When asked about his team-high 20 points Rodney Cooper said, ''It's just my teammates finding me. It was a great team win.''
Tarrant scored 17 points with eight assists, Levi Randolph 14 points and Justin Coleman 11 for the Crimson Tide. Jimmie Taylor contributed 11 rebounds.
Alabama (5-1) led from start to finish, building up a double-digit lead, 32-22, when Coleman made two free throws at the 7:21 mark. The Crimson Tide extended the advantage to 43-28 on a lay-up by Michael Kessens with 1:15 left.
The Bulls scored the final four points of the half, with a dunk by Ruben Guerrero at the buzzer cutting the lead to 43-32 at intermission.
Cooper had 10 points in the first half for Alabama and Nehemias Morillo had 10 points for South Florida (4-2).
With the score 49-36 with 16:49 remaining South Florida went on a 9-4 run to slice the lead to 51-45 on a field goal by Chris Perry at the 13:31 mark. The Crimson Tide responded with 13 unanswered points to push the margin to 64-45, matching its largest lead of the game, on a lay-up by Kessens with a little over nine minutes left.
The Bulls countered by outscoring the Crimson Tide 18-7 to pull within 71-63 on a lay-up by Corey Allen Jr. with 3:53 to go.
Allen led South Florida with 16 points, followed by Morillo with 13 points and Perry with 11. Perry also had eight rebounds.
Alabama's Grant was pleased with the effort and how his team picked it up when South Florida made runs. ''Our guys responded well to answer their runs with runs of our own,'' he said.
When South Florida cut the lead to six, ''We got aggressive from an offensive standpoint. We had to respond to the adversity that hit us at that point in the game. They were fighting for 40 minutes so no lead was safe,'' Grant said.
South Florida coach Orlando Antigua said, ''Twenty-one turnovers and 15 offensive rebounds. You can't give anybody that many opportunities and expect to come out of here with a win. Some of that was them and some of that was us. Give Alabama credit. They had a great game plan. They're a good ball club and they got the better of us tonight.''
South Florida: In experience South Florida is the second-youngest team in NCAA Division I. .Coming into the game the Bulls' only loss was a three-point (68-65) setback to N.C. State. .First year coach Orlando Antigua had to replace seven players with remaining eligibility who left the program with the offseason coaching change. .South Florida entered the game with four players averaging double-figures in scoring. .The Bulls returned only three letter winners from last year's team, the second fewest in Division I. .Antigua is one of two Hispanic NCAA Division I head coaches, the other being South Carolina's Frank Martin.
Alabama: Coming into the game the Crimson Tide led the nation in free throw shooting percentage (81.5%). .Levi Randolph entered the game leading the country in free throw shooting percentage (35 of 35), leading the SEC in scoring average and having made 37 consecutive free throws going back to last season, two away from Alvin Lee's school record of 39 straight.
South Florida: At Detroit on Saturday.
Alabama: At Xavier on Saturday.