SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico. – No. 16 Alabama blew by Maryland, 62-42, in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip Off Thursday evening. With the win, the Crimson Tide opens the season 3-0 for the first time under third-year head coach Anthony Grant.
Junior forward Tony Mitchell led the way for Alabama with a 17-point, 11-rebound performance including 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc for his second double-double of the season. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford added 10 points and four rebounds, while sophomore guard Charles Hankerson, Jr. logged eight points and five rebounds off the bench. Freshman guard Rodney Cooper was able to contribute seven points and six rebounds as well.
"The defensive effort for us tonight really tells the story and Tony gave us a great performance," Grant said. "What he was able to provide on the offensive end in the first half allowed us to build a lead. I thought everybody tonight understood the focus we needed."
Alabama connected on 42 percent of its shots (24-of-56) from the field, including 43 percent (7-of-16) from beyond the arc. The Tide outrebounded Maryland, 44-28, with sophomore center Carl Engstrom providing five of those rebounds, tying his career high as he saw extensive action with JaMychal Green encountering foul trouble.
"I'm proud of our guys tonight," Grant said. "I thought we came out with great focus on defense. When you look at the final numbers I think that tells the story and we're excited for the opportunity to compete in the championship bracket."
Alabama opened up the game with an 8-1 run during Green committed two quick fouls less than four minutes into the contest that resulted in him sitting out the rest of the half. At the 9:31 mark the Tide extended its lead to 20-7 after starting the game 4-of-6 from three-point range. Alabama was able to outscore the Terps, 28-19, without Green in the first half as Mitchell scored 15 of his points in the first half.
"It was good for our team to come out and start strong and not have to worry about playing from behind," Mitchell said. "It was great to get the win with a strong team performance."
Halfway through the second half, Maryland was shooting just 16 percent (5-of-31) from the field while the Terps were able to keep Green in foul trouble with just seven points. Alabama's largest lead of the half came with 1:02 left in the game after a Hankerson lay-up to make it 62-37.
Directing the way for Maryland (1-1) was forward James Padgett with nine points and five rebounds while guard Terrell Stoglin added six points of his own.