TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)—No. 4 Alabama had two big stars on the bench. The Crimson Tide wound up watching the Richard Hendrix show.
Hendrix had a career-high 34 points on 15-of-19 shooting in a 92-58 victory over Alabama State on Saturday night.
It hardly mattered that Jermareo Davidson and Ronald Steele sat out the game.
“I feel like without Ron and Jermareo, I have to be a little more assertive on the offensive end,” said Hendrix, who grabbed 10 rebounds. “I felt like if I got the ball I could score, and that’s what I did.
“I was just in a groove.”
Alonzo Gee added 16 points for the Crimson Tide (8-1), which shot 68 percent against the Hornets (2-5) and made 9-of-15 3-pointers.
Steele missed the game with tendinitis in his right knee and a sprained left ankle after trying to go in warmups. Coach Mark Gottfried announced before the game that Davidson, a senior center, had withdrawn from the fall semester after missing some classes following the death of his girlfriend in a November car accident. His brother is in the hospital with an unrelated injury.
Davidson is expected to be eligible for next Saturday’s game against Southern Mississippi once final exams are over.
“With the SEC and the NCAA, there’s a process where you can withdraw and have your semester wiped out and not get penalized when there’s a death or tragedy,” Gottfried said. “We’re just trying our best to make sure we look out for him.”
Hendrix controlled the game in their absence, playing 28 minutes and scoring just about every time he got the ball near the basket. His previous career best was 23 points, which he eclipsed with his first shot of the second half.
“Richard just dominated us tonight,” Alabama State coach Lewis Jackson said. “He scored at will around the basket. They were just more physical than us.”
Reserve Justin Tubbs had 13 second-half points for the Tide, making all three 3-point attempts. He is 9-for-10 from the field in limited action this season.
Andrew Hayles led Alabama State with 21 points and Moses Edun scored 15 and had six steals.
Alabama outrebounded the Hornets 38-22. Gottfried could find little fault in how his short-handed team responded. Gee was the only Tide player to play more than 28 minutes.
Point guard subs Brandon Hollinger and Mikhail Torrance combined for nine assists and nine points without a turnover filling in for Steele. Yamene Coleman had nine rebounds as Davidson’s replacement.
“You’ve got two very good basketball players both not playing,” Gottfried said. “What I liked about the way we played tonight, we weren’t out there fooling around. They stuck to the game plan of going inside to Richard Hendrix.”
The Tide was coming off its first loss, 99-85 at Notre Dame on Thursday night, but jumped on top 19-4 to start this one even without Davidson and Steele.
Alabama State couldn’t get closer than 17 points in the second half.
“We knew that there was a chance those guys would not play,” Jackson said. “Being a Top Five team in the country, we knew they had many other options to go to.”