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Alabama forward Richard Hendrix (35) hit a reverse layup against Lipscomb in first-half action Friday night in Tuscaloosa. Hendrix, who prepped at Athens High, scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
AP photo by Jason Harless
Alabama forward Richard Hendrix (35) hit a reverse layup against Lipscomb in first-half action Friday night in Tuscaloosa. Hendrix, who prepped at Athens High, scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

After slow start, Tide runs away from Lipscomb

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Hosting Lipscomb University of the guard-heavy Atlantic Sun Conference on Friday night, Alabama faced mismatches that could have spelled trouble for the No. 8-ranked Crimson Tide.

It was the Bisons' guards vs. the Alabama big men, and even though the guards ran wild early, the Crimson Tide overcame a close first half for an 80-58 win.

The Tide's big men prevailed, led by 6-foot-8 Athens High product Richard Hendrix, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double.

Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said it was a good test for his team as the non-conference schedule winds down.

"Well, they are pretty good," Gottfried said.

"I think this is a game we're going to look back on in March as a team that helped our RPI."

With the win, Alabama improved its record to 12-1, the Tide's best start since 2001.

A 3-pointer by Lipscomb's Brian Fisk put the Bisons up 7-3 two minutes into the game and the Bisons led by as many as eight points in the first half.

A trey from Ronald Steele gave the Tide an 18-16 lead with 8:30 left in the opening half, and Alabama held a 33-30 lead at the break.

Lipscomb started four guards and a forward, while the Tide started four forwards and a guard, and the points came accordingly.

Guards accounted for 50 of Lipscomb's 58 points, while 57 of Alabama's 80 were from its forwards.

"Early in the game our big lineup didn't help us, it hurt us," Gottfried said. "One of our big men always had to guard one of their guards and that's awkward. But in the second half, we decided to stay with our big lineup and just pound it in there — quit fooling around."

Alabama never led by more than two scores in the second half until a free throw by Hendrix put the Tide up 51-44 midway through the half.

Alabama pulled away when Steele followed with a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to double digits.

"We were making shots, but then when they jumped up, and you have to play from behind, you have to play quicker and the shots weren't falling,"
said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson, son of former Alabama head coach Wimp Sanderson.

"That's why the score isn't really reflective of the game."

Alabama's Mykal Riley led all scorers with 21 points, followed by Hendrix's double-double and Jermareo Davidson's 16 points and nine rebounds.

Fisk finished with 16 points for Lipscomb (8-5) and Eddie Ard added 15.

Alabama will play its final nonconference game Monday when it hosts Oklahoma at 1:30 p.m.

"You don't come to play that game, you come to win it," Gottfried said. "And then our guys are ready for conference play — they're ready to move on to the next step."

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