Hendrix helps Alabama overcome absence of DavidsonNov 17, 2006 - 8:31 PM ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands (Ticker) -- Richard Hendrix made sure that No. 11 Alabama had an inside presence at the Paradise Jam.
Hendrix scored 16 points as the Crimson Tide opened up the preseason tournament with a 71-62 victory over Middle Tennessee State.
A Southeastern Conference All-Freshman selection last season, Hendrix was Alabama's main threat in the paint after senior Jermareo Davidson did not travel to the Caribbean with the team due to the death of his girlfriend last weekend in Atlanta.
Davidson, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Crimson Tide's 96-65 season-opening win over Jackson State last Friday, is expected to join the team for Sunday's contest against Iowa.
"The bottom line was we found a way to win," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "We missed Jermareo, but I was proud of the way our guys played. We're on the right side of the bracket with a chance to win again on Sunday."
"He's a big part of our team," Tide point guard Ronald Steele said about Davidson's absence. "But the young guys played great. They had great effort. I'm proud of the team."
The best of those young players was Hendrix, who shot 6-of-11 from the field and pulled down eight boards. He had nine points in the opening half for Alabama, which led, 38-31, at intermission and maintained at least a five-point advantage thereafter.
Steele scored 20 points and Alonzo Gee added 12 for the Tide (2-0), who shot 49 percent (25-of-51) from the field.
The Blue Raiders, who fell to 0-6 all-time against the Tide, cut their deficit to 62-57 on a 3-pointer by Kevin Kanaskie with 5:32 remaining.
However, Alabama's Mikal Riley answered back with a shot from the arc, igniting a 9-2 run that Hendrix capped with a follow shot that made it 71-59 with 1:19 to play.
Filling Davidson's spot in the starting five, freshman Yamene Coleman had five points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Tim Blue had 13 points and Kanaskie finished with 12 for the Blue Raiders (1-2), who dropped to 0-2 against ranked teams this season.
Middle Tennessee State absorbed an 83-52 season-opening loss at No. 24 Tennessee on November 10.
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