ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The University of Alabama basketball team won a basketball game on Friday night, and could have won a quilting bee as well.
Using a patchwork lineup, especially in a foul-plagued first half, the Crimson Tide held on through the early going and pulled away from Memphis in the second half to take an 82-70 win in the Veterans’ Classic.
The game was the season opener for both teams and Alabama entered the contest with four players sidelined by injury or suspension. That situation was compounded by early foul trouble that had Alabama head coach Avery Johnson scouring his bench for a playing rotation.
“We told our guys that we had enough,” Johnson said. “We knew we would be playing with an eight-man rotation. Then we came out, didn’t take care of the basketball and we fouled too much. We didn’t get off to a good start in our scrimmage or our exhibition game either, so that is something we need to work on.”
The early foul trouble sent both touted freshman John Petty and center Daniel Giddens to the bench with less than five minutes elapsed in the first half. The lineup shuffling allowed Memphis to build a 21-13 lead midway through the half.
Dazon Ingram helped the Crimson Tide whittle away at the lead scoring eight points in the next seven minutes. By the half, Alabama had regained a 38-36 lead.
The game remained close until Alabama broke a 43-43 tie with a 12-4 run key by a pair of Petty 3-pointers. From there, Alabama pushed its lead to as many as 16 points before finishing with the 12-point win.
Although several Alabama freshman had solid debut performances, it was the veterans that carried much of the load.
Ingram led all scorers with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds. Avery Johnson Jr. added 13 points and junior center Donta Hall had a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
Herbert Jones had 12 points in his first collegiate game, while Petty added 11.
Kevin Davenport led Memphis (0-1) with 15 points. Jamal Johnson, the son of former Alabama star Buck Johnson, added 10 points in his first game for the Tigers.
Alabama will return home on Tuesday night, hosting Lipscomb. Freshman Collin Sexton, who sat out a one-game NCAA suspension on Friday, is expected to be back in the Crimson Tide lineup.