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Alabama rallies to capture Paradise Jam title

Nov 21, 2006 - 3:46 AM ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands (Ticker) -- Alabama is not a one-man team this season.

Mykal Riley and Alonzo Gee scored 13 points apiece as the ninth-ranked Crimson Tide rallied for a 63-56 victory over Xavier in the championship game of the Paradise Jam.

With star guard and Wooden Award candidate Ronald Steele limited to five points, Alabama used its balance and inside muscle to sink Xavier.

Jermareo Davidson had 10 points and 12 rebounds, Richard Hendrix added 10 points and Riley grabbed 10 rebounds as the Crimson Tide (4-0) dominated inside.

The Crimson Tide got a big emotional lift with the return of Davidson, who did not travel with the team here due to the death of his girlfriend last weekend in Atlanta.

The 6-10 senior center recorded double-doubles in the final two games.

"I told our team that it's still November. We've got a long season ahead of us, but I couldn't be prouder of our team," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "This is one of those gut-check games. We were playing well early. They made a run on us. They came out at the start of the second half and had a little more energy than we did, made some shots. And we had to dig down."

Trailing, 49-44, Alabama went on an 18-2 run to take a 62-51 lead with 3:25 to play. A 6-8, 265-pound forward, Hendrix had eight points in the game-breaking surge.

Xavier (3-1) battled back from an 11-point deficit behind Johnny Wolf, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close it to 32-31 at halftime.

The Musketeers forged ahead and took their biggest lead, 40-34, early in the second half on 3-pointers by Stanley Burrell and Josh Duncan.

Gee, voted the tournament MVP, led a surge that closed the deficit to 44-43, but a 3-pointer by Wolf extended the margin to 49-44, leading to the decisive run.

"We played great as a team, and we just got it done," Gee said. "It feels great to win MVP. I didn't come in here expecting to win MVP, I was just thinking about us coming down here and winning the tournament, and that's what we did. I'm proud of our team and how hard everybody played."

Duncan scored 14 points and Wolf added 13 for Xavier, which shot just 33 percent (21-of-64) from the field.

"I think we beat a very good team," Gottfried said. "They're a veteran team. They've been on the road, they've been in these situations, they responded. You knew they weren't going to go away even when we got up on them early in the first half, so it was a great win from that perspective."

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