Frosh Mitchell Shows Block Skills

Tony Mitchell

Tony Mitchell threw a block party Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum, and the Alabama freshman forward invited 12,098 of his closest friends. And they showed up in droves. If not, Tennessee's 63-56 win over the Tide in Tuscaloosa might have -- make that WOULD have -- been worse.



Starting in place of Senario Hillman, Alabama's Tony Mitchell made a pair of put-backs as the Crimson Tide built a lead early. The Vols got their first field goal at the 15:54 mark, but by that time the Tide led 7-3. Later, Mitchell put a J.P. Prince shot into the stands, catching the fans' and Vols' attention. Moments later, Green hammered a Scotty Hopson dunk attempt off the backboard for a clean block, again igniting the crowd. Bama had eight blocks for the game, and six of those came in the first 20 minutes.

The Vols (15-2, 3-0 SEC) trailed 25-24 lead to the dressing room. Mitchell had five snuffs himself. "I try to do whatever I can to help the team," Mitchell said. "I try to block shots. I try to take charges. I try to do anything I can for the team." The five blocks and nine rebounds were both college career highs for the 6-6 freshman.

Said Alabama Coach Anthony Grant, "I thought Tony was really active. He was hustling all over the place. He had some tremendous blocks when it looked like they had easy lay-ups. We had to make hustle plays, and try to create hustle plays for us."

Green said the eight blocks were no coincidence. "We practice that," he said. "We block of lot of shots at practice, and we try not to foul."

Green and Mitchell were joined at the block party by Justin Knox and Chris Hines with one each. Tennessee tallied only a pair of rejections. Be that as it may, Bama (11-7, 1-3) lost it's third straight league game because it was not able to pull out a win over the Vols, which have now beaten the Tide twice in a row counting last year's win at the SEC Tournament.

"Obviously in the second half (Tennessee) really turned it up," Grant said. "I thought we played with great energy, but their energy got the best of us early in the second half. They were able to get out in transition and get on the glass a little bit and that hurt us and put us in a little bit of a hole.

"I thought our guys did a good job of fighting and putting us in positions where we had opportunities, but we couldn't capitalize on those."

A big reason for the Vols' road win was Tennessee's ability to shut down Alabama's leading scorer, Mikhail Torrance. Though he dished out a game-high six assists, the senior was able to score but three points on 1-of-9 shooting from the floor in 35 minutes.

"Give Tennessee credit," said Grant. "They forced (Torrance) to do other things than what he's accustomed to."

"Most teams are starting to play (Torrance) to his right," said Green. "You have those nights. Just hope he can bounce back Saturday, and let bygones be bygones."

Speaking of Saturday, CBS-TV will televise the second of three straight Bama home games with an early tip time of 11 a.m. CST.

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