TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)—Charles Hankerson Jr. was most impressed by how all of his Alabama teammates contributed to this win.
Hankerson had 16 points and nine rebounds, Nick Jacobs added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Alabama won its 23rd straight home game Wednesday night, beating Alabama A&M 82-45.
Rodney Cooper scored 15 points, Trevor Lacey had 12 points and Levi Randolph 11 for the Crimson Tide (6-0).
“It was awesome seeing the whole team do well, seeing everybody succeed,” Hankerson said. “We worked so hard and we put everything into this. It was good just seeing everybody doing their thing out there. We just wanted to step up whenever our number was called. I felt the freshmen played real hard.”
Demarquelle Tabb had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Casey Canty had 10 points for Alabama A&M.
After winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament, the Crimson Tide (6-0) entered the game sporting one of the nation’s top defenses, holding opponents to 51.8 points a game, 14th best in the nation. The Crimson Tide improved on that against the outclassed Bulldogs (2-2).
“That was a great defensive team. They were aggressive defensively,” Alabama A&M coach Willie Hayes said. “Alabama is very talented. I see a bright future for them. I see them going a long way.”
Cooper, a freshman, scored 11 of Alabama’s first 15 points as the Crimson Tide bolted to a 24-4 lead on a 3-point shot by Hankerson at the 9:43 mark. The lead expanded to 48-18 when Lacey, another freshman, made two free throws with 6.9 seconds left. Alabama led at the half 48-20.
Despite playing mostly freshmen and substitutes, the Crimson Tide held Alabama A&M to 1-for-17 shooting (5.9 percent)—0 for 5 from 3-point range—in the first half. Alabama also out-rebounded the Bulldogs 31-15.
“I thought our defense very early in the game was very good. We established the tone of the game from the defensive end,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “On the offensive end we had a lot of guys who stepped up. I was pleased with the effort that everybody else gave.”
Senior forward JaMychal Green, who is averaging 14.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game, didn’t play because of a hip pointer. Grant said that Green was sore but that he could have played. Junior forward Tony Mitchell, voted MVP of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, left the game with 12:05 left with an injury. Cooper, who had the hot hand starting the game, only played six minutes in the first half after picking up three quick fouls.
Alabama’s lead reached 39 points when Randolph made a free throw with 41.5 seconds left in the game.