Alabama A&M-Alabama Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- Alabama is coming off its first regular-season tournament title in four years, but coach Anthony Grant knows his team is far from where he wants it to be.
The 13th-ranked Crimson Tide look to further progress and remain unbeaten when they host Alabama A&M on Wednesday night.
Off to its best start since winning seven in a row to open the 2006-07 season, Alabama (5-0) beat Purdue 65-56 on Sunday in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It was the Crimson Tide's first tournament title during the regular season since they won the Las Vegas Classic in 2007.
Trevor Releford scored 20 points and Tony Mitchell added 14 with 10 rebounds as Alabama used a 19-4 run midway through the second half to put away the Boilermakers.
While winning the tournament was a confidence-building accomplishment for a Crimson Tide team that has allowed opponents to shoot just 31.8 percent this season, Grant is not completely satisfied. Alabama shot 43.2 percent and turned the ball over 37 times during the three games in Puerto Rico.
"We, as a team, understand that we have time to progress and get better," Grant said. "We understand that we haven't scratched the surface of where we could be."
Mitchell, however, appears to be in mid-season form. The junior forward averaged 19.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in Puerto Rico to earn the tournament's most outstanding player honor.
"I thought he had a great tournament," Grant said. "He's done a great job on both ends of the floor and rebounding. The benefit of having a guy like Tony is he understands the expectations of our program and doing a great job of leading our young guys."
Mitchell had 12 points with 15 rebounds as Alabama shot 51.7 percent and forced 21 turnovers in a 76-50 victory over Alabama A&M last November.
The Crimson Tide will try to extend a 22-game home winning streak that dates to a 76-73 loss to Mississippi on Feb. 27, 2010.
Alabama A&M (2-1) has dropped each of its four meetings with the Crimson Tide - all in Tuscaloosa.
The Bulldogs, who lost 72-63 at Tulane in their season opener Nov. 11, will again face a Division I opponent after posting consecutive victories over Talladega College of the NAIA and Oakwood University of the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association.
Junior guard Casey Canty scores a team-leading 17.3 points per game while sophomore Demarquelle Tabb is averaging 13.7 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds. Canty scored 12 points while Tabb added nine with 10 boards last season against Alabama.
"They're a very quick and very deep team," Grant told Alabama's official website. "They want to play an up-tempo. It'll be a battle of who does the best job taking care of the basketball and imposing their defensive intensity and style of play. From what I've seen we have very similar styles of play."
The Bulldogs are facing their first Top 25 opponent since losing 81-34 to then-No. 22 Florida State on Dec. 31, 2009.
Updated November 22, 2011