TUSCALOOSA _ Apparently the University of Alabama men's basketball team felt that it needed a some more conditioning, so it played a little extra Monday night at Coleman Coliseum.
With Alabama-Huntsville able to extend the Crimson Tide beyond regulation, and then some, it wasn't until the final two minutes of double-overtime that the home team finally decided it had had enough of the preseason and put the Chargers away, 73-68.
But it sure wasn't easy, even the game was only an exhibition.
"What a great learning experience," said Anthony Grant, whose team will open the regular season Friday night at home against Florida A&M.
The coach meant that too. Despite preaching patience early on, Alabama didn't show much early on and aggressive UAH, coming off a 23-7 season and ranked 20th in the preseason NCAA Division II poll, led by as much as eight during the first half.
Then when the Tide did play more methodically, it became tentative until freshman point guard Trevor Releford demonstrated that he's ready to lead his new team by finishing with 22 points, six in the extra frames.
"That's great to see form a freshman," Grant said.
Releford's jumper with 35 seconds remaining essentially was the game-winner, with junior forward JaMychal Green finishing the scoring with a dunk with nine seconds to go.
"I think it's important for me to take shots like that, to take pressure away from JaMychal," Releford said. "They won't be able to double-down on him. He is great at one-on-one and can score."
A tip-in by UAH's Xavier Baldwin with 25 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime at 59-59 when Alabama couldn't make one of its final three shots, and Green's block of guard Josh Magette's 3-pointer extended it to the second frame, 64-64.
"We were close," UAH coach Lennie Acuff said. "We would have really liked to kick the door down. We're really disappointed, but we'll be better for it and I think they'll be better for playing us."
Releford was followed by Green's 16 points, senior guard Senario Hillman's 15, and sophomore forward Tony Mitchell netting 11 points before fouling out. Hillman added five assists and had five of Alabama's 13 steals.
Magette played all 50 minutes for UAH, while guard Jamie Smith led the Chargers with 19 points and forward Zane Campbell had 18.
"In our first exhibition game we gave up a lot of uncontested threes," Grant said. "We were fortunate that the team that we played didn't make those on that night. There were certainly a lot of things on the defensive end that I was pleased with in terms of our energy and effort."
Despite that, UAH -- playing a very different style than Talladega last week -- got some good looks early and shot 50 percent in the first half, including four 3-pointers, but the longer the game went the more the Tide clamped down. Alabama also had an 8-3 rebounding edge in overtime after being even through regulation.
Of course, it could have been worse. Auburn and Tennessee both lost to Division II teams Monday night.
"We weren't expecting to play double-overtime," Green said, later adding: "That's a bad look. That's an in-state school too and we want to be the best team in the state."