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November 13, 2010TUSCALOOSA _ It was difficult to access which was more impressive by the University of Alabama men's basketball team Friday evening, jumping out to an 11-0 start during the initial seven-plus minutes of the regular season, or the 14-2 run to open the second half.
The first was highlighted stellar defense, the latter by some impressive dunks including an alley-oop pass from sophomore guard Ben Eblen to junior forward JaMychal Green for a one-handed finish. Regardless, the Crimson Tide never trailed during its impressive opener against Florida A&M, and won 76-37.
"Probably the most fun we've had since we've all played together," said Green, who contributed to another highlight-reel dunk when on a breakaway passed off the glass to trailing sophomore forward Tony Mitchell.
Five Alabama players finished in double digits, with Green leading with 14 points and seven rebounds while only playing 18 minutes. Mitchell had 12 points and nine rebounds, while guards Charvez Davis and Senario Hillman scored 11 and freshman guard Charles Hankerson topped the newcomers with 10.
Meanwhile, while limiting FAMU to just 23.1 percent shooting (15 of 65), Alabama yielded its fewest points yet under Grant and enjoyed its corresponding largest margin of victory (39).
"I feel like in the second half we turned it up," Green said "We started blocking the 3-point line better."
FAMU, which finished 9-22 last season, made just two of 21 attempts from beyond the arc (9.5 percent), with forward Amin Stevens its leading scorer with eight points.
Alabama had lopsided advantages in numerous statistical categories including 48-18 in the paint, 22-2 in fast-break points and 34-16 in bench scoring.
"We came out aggressive, ready to play," added Hillman, who was credited with four of Alabama's 12 steals and five assists at Coleman Coliseum.
Although Trevor Releford become just the fourth true freshman to start at the point in an Alabama season opener, joining Ennis Whatley (1982), Mo Williams (2002) and Ronald Steele (2005), he scored the first basket of the season on a fast-break layup off a Green steal.
Alabama actually came out in a three-guard set, with Eblen making his first career start due to senior forward Chris Hines missing Thursday's practice to deal with a "medical issue."
Davis, who missed both preseason games following surgery to repair a hernia, was UA's first substitute off the bench. He hit his second and third three-pointers attempted and another later in the game while playing 20 minutes.
"He came back and had really good couple of days of practice," Grant said. "He had no pain."
The win was No. 1,500 in Alabama history, making the Tide one of just 32 NCAA Division I programs to reach that milestone, joining just Kentucky and Arkansas in the SEC.
Alabama (1-0) will host Troy on Monday.
"I think it was a good start," Green said.
Women's team beat Tennessee State
Junior guard Ericka Russell scored 18 points while senior forward Tierney Jenkins notched a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds as Alabama crushed Tennessee State, 82-55.
"This was the first time I knew the team was going to play the way it practiced," Coach Wendell Hudson said. "I thought for about 35 minutes we played pretty good basketball."
Alabama used 13 players, had a 42-16 advantage in the paint and 38-9 points off turnovers (where the Tide had a 36-13 edge - a statistic that not too long ago Alabama was frequently on the negative side).
"It wasn't perfect, but I think our effort was good," Jenkins said.
Junior-college transfer Alicia Mitcham added eight points and three rebounds in her debut, while freshman Kaneisha Horn had seven points and five rebounds, but wasn't pleased with her performance.
"It wasn't what I expected," the high school McDonald's All-American said. "I'll be better."
Alabama hosts Central Arkansas at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Women's team inks fourth player
Hudson announced a fourth addition during the early-signing period, with the signing of power forward Aneesah Daniels from Decatur, Ga.
"Adding Aneesah puts the icing on the cake," he said.
Daniels averaged 12.4 points and 10.6 points last season to help lead Redan High School to a 30-1 record and the Class AAAAA state championship. She's ranted the 69th overall recruit by the Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Report, and No. 96 by ESPNU HoopGurlz.
Earlier this week Alabama signed junior college standouts Kyra Crosby, Jessica Merritt and Meghan Perkins.
Grant thanks veterans
Grant opened his postgame press conference by thanking veterans.
"I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge our veterans, obviously yesterday being Veteran's Day, certainly for myself, our staff and all of our players, we appreciate all the sacrifices veterans have made over the years," he said. "Those people serving in the armed forces right now, we want to thank them for the sacrifices that they are making right now that allow us to be able to do the things that we're able to do."