The full version of the game story from last night’s Alabama basketball game didn’t make all the print editions. It’s found starting here:
TUSCALOOSA — There was a basketball game and Alabama won Thursday night, but that wasn’t the story.
Seven-foot junior college transfer Moussa Gueye made his surprise Crimson Tide debut in the closing moments of a 72-55 win over Jacksonville. His appearance came four months after tearing his ACL and a day after head coach Anthony Grant said Gueye was “limited” but “progressing.”
Gueye, who entered after a timeout with 3:44 left, didn’t score. He grabbed one rebound while playing somewhat tentatively on the left knee protected by a brace. The decision to play Gueye came after two very strong practice performances, Grant said.
“I wouldn’t have put him out there if I felt like there was any jeopardy,” Grant said. “Our medical staff wouldn’t have cleared him if we felt like there was any chance of him putting himself in harm’s way.”
The Tide (10-3) played without injured leading scorer JaMychal Green for a second straight game, so Trevor Releford led the Tide with 18 points.
Alabama did it with 3-pointers once again in the first half. It made six in the opening 20 minutes just as it did the last time out against Oklahoma State, but didn’t connect on any of its four attempts after halftime.
Releford made 2-of-3 attempts from 3-point range after making his fourth of the season in the last game.
“Last game I hit one and it gave me a little bit of confidence that I needed,” Releford said.
The visitors losers of seven straight entering the night led the Tide 23-19 with 8 minutes left in the first. It wouldn’t get any better as the Dolphins slipped to 2-10 this season.
A 15-2 run keyed by three straight 3s ended any hope of an upset. Alabama never led by fewer than five after that.
Scoring the first 10 points of the second half turned it into a rout as Jacksonville failed to score in the first 8 minutes, 35 seconds.
Junior Tony Mitchell added 17 points for the Tide who got 33 from its freshmen led by Trevor Lacey’s 11.
A Jan. 3 trip to Georgia Tech is the last Alabama non-conference test before opening SEC play Jan. 7 at Georgia.