Alabama captures the 2011 5-Hour ENERGY® Puerto Rico Tip-Off
By Jon Cooper
The fifth annual 5-Hour ENERGY®Puerto Rico Tip-Off brought together eight teams, including three-fourths of the 2011 NIT Final Four, who were eager to make a statement. After four days and 12 games that saw incredible displays of explosive offense, smothering defense, dramatic clutch shooting and record-setting shot-blocking and assisting, Alabama took home the championship, knocking of Purdue. Here’s a recap of the 2011 5-Hour ENERGY®Puerto Rico Tip-Off:
The Crimson Tide came out rolling and crushed Maryland, 62-42, in its opener. Junior forward Tony Mitchell had 17 points and 11 rebounds, both game-highs, as Alabama jumped out to an 8-1 lead and led 36-20 at the half. They did much of the damage without senior forward JaMychal Green, who had picked up two early fouls. Alabama limited Maryland to 26.5 percent shooting for the game (18.5 percent in the first half), while shooting 42.9 (43.9 from three). UA led by at least 20 most of the second half. In a rematch of last season’s NIT final, Alabama took care of Wichita State, 70-60, to earn a berth in the championship game. Mitchell again led all scorers with 26 points, one point off his career-high, and eight rebounds, while Green bounced back with a 15-point, 11-rebound effort. The Tide swatted away 14 shots, a tournament record, led by freshman forward Nick Jacobs’ five. Green added four blocks and Mitchell had three. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford put in 15 points, shooting 11-for-12 from the foul line, with four assists. Alabama led 31-28 at the half then used a 13-3 run to open a 51-41 lead and cruised home. In the championship game, Alabama frustrated Purdue, winning 65-56. Releford had 20 points while Mitchell added 14 and 10, and Green chipped in 14 and eight. The Tide used a 19-4 run and 51.9 percent second-half shooting to pull away. Alabama held Purdue 24 points below its season average and to 23 percent shooting from three. Mitchell earned Tournament MVP honors, averaging 19 points on 56.4 shooting, 54.5 from three, with 9.7 rebounds.
The Buffaloes hung tough in their opener but lost to Wichita State, 67-58. Senior guard Carlon Brown had a team-high 15 and sophomore forward Andre Roberson added 10 rebounds, but shot only 2-for-9. Colorado never recovered from a 7-0 first-half run that broke a 24-24 tie. They trailed 33-26 at the half and by double digits for most of the second 20. Roberson bounced back in Colorado’s next game, but the Buffaloes fell, 78-71, to Maryland. The junior guard had a career-high 21 points and added a game-high 13 rebounds, while Brown had 14. Senior forward Austin Dufault added 12 for the Buffaloes, who shot 50 percent for the game, led by 12 in the first half and by eight at intermission. But CU was outscored 52-37 in the second half when they allowed Maryland to shoot 56 percent, 58.3 percent from three. An 11-0 Maryland run turned a four-point lead into a seven-point deficit and proved decisive. In its finale, Colorado changed its look, unveiling new silver uniforms, and its luck, topping Western Michigan, 81-76. The Buffaloes shot a season-low 39.3 percent, 23.1 percent from three in the first half, and trailed 35-31 at intermission. But the Buffs heated up in the second 20 minutes, outscoring WMU, 51-40. Brown had a season-high 23, going 8-for-14 and 6-for-6 from the line, and Dufault added 16, with eight rebounds. CU made 22 of 27 free-throw attempts, 16 of 18 in the second half, while Western missed nine FTAs, eight of them in the final 20 minutes.
Iona outshot, outrebounded and out-assisted Purdue, but lost a heartbreaker, 91-90. Junior guard Lamont Jones scored 17, and two players had double-doubles—junior forward Taaj Ridley (16 points, 12 rebounds) and senior guard Scott Machado (14 points, 11 assists). The Gaels, who trailed by seven early in the second half, regained the lead late, as senior forward Mike Glover’s two free throws and Jones’ jumper with 33 seconds left capped a 6-0 run, giving Iona a 90-88 lead. But Purdue’s Robbie Hummel hit a game-winning three with 20 seconds remaining. The Gaels shot only 68.8 percent from the line and missed five of their 16 second-half free throws. Iona held off stubborn Western Michigan, 94-88, in its next game. Junior guard Kyle Smyth had 24, including seven three-pointers, and Machado added 17 points and 15 assists, breaking the tournament single-game and three-game assists records for the Gaels. Iona, which never trailed, led by 13 at the half and saw its 19-point lead cut to six before holding off the Broncos. The Gaels forced 25 turnovers, gaining a 27-16 edge in points off giveaways, which compensated for WMU’s 50-34 advantage in rebounding and 31-2 edge in second-chance points. In their final game, the Gaels blew away Maryland, 89-63. Machado had his third double-double, with 15 points and 15 assists. Iona took a three-point lead at the break and pulled away using 8-0 and 12-0 runs to push the lead to 19. Jones scored 17 of his 22 in the second half, and Glover added 19 and 10 as Iona shot 65.7 percent in the second 20. They turned 26 turnovers into a 32-9 edge in points off turnovers, and outscored Maryland 27-6 in fast-break points and 60-28 on points in the paint. Machado earned All-Tournament Team honors, averaging 15.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting, while handing out 41 assists (13.7 per game) and committing only six turnovers.
Maryland couldn’t overcome cold shooting in its 62-42 loss to No. 16 Alabama. Freshman forward Ashton Pankey had 10 and junior forward James Padgett added nine, but Maryland shot 26.5 percent, hit two of 12 three-point attempts, and made only 14 free throws while missing 11. The Terps never led, trailing by 16 at the half and by as much as 25. Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin hit six of seven free-throws for Maryland, whose starters shot 3-for-19. The Terrapins found their touch in the second half against Colorado, winning 78-71. Stoglin scored a game- and career-high 32 points, 25 coming after intermission, as Maryland overcame an eight-point halftime deficit. Senior guard Sean Mosley added 16, with four 3-pointers, and freshman guard Nick Faust had 15, with 3 threes, as the Terps hit 11-of-21 from behind the arc. Maryland shot 56.3 percent and 58.3 from three, in overcoming an 11-point deficit. They went on an 11-0 run to take a seven-point lead, with Stoglin, who set a tournament record with 12 field goals, scoring eight straight points in 94 seconds. Maryland kept it a two-possession game the rest of the way. Maryland allowed Colorado one point off turnovers and no fast-break points in the second half after being outscored 11-0 and 10-2 in the first 20. In their final game, the Terps ran out of gas against Iona, losing 89-63. Mosley led Maryland with 21, hitting 4 of 8 from three, Stoglin chipped in with 17, and Pankey pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Maryland shot 61.9 percent in the first half, 50 percent from three, but went cold in the second half, shooting 35.5 percent, 21.4 from three. Iona shot 65.7 percent as it used a 12-0 run to put the game away.
Purdue got a late three-pointer from sixth-year senior forward Robbie Hummel to survive a 91-90 track meet with Iona. Hummel scored a game-high 24, shooting 10-for-21, 4-of-9 from three, in a game that saw the Boilermakers shoot 48.9 percent from three. Purdue closed the half on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 50, then used a 7-0 run to open the second half to take the biggest lead of the game. There were four ties and six lead changes over the final nine minutes, before Hummel, who grabbed nine rebounds, hit the game-winner. Purdue got double-figure scoring from senior guards Lewis Jackson (17) and Ryne Smith (15), and junior guard Kelsey Barlow (14). In its next game, Purdue outlasted Temple, 85-77. Jackson scored 24, 10 in the final three minutes, while Hummel added 20. Purdue answered Temple’s 9-0 run that tied the game at 67 with an 11-2 run, started by Jackson’s three-point play and Hummel’s two foul shots. The duo combined for nine of the 11 points. Jackson hit 10-of-11 from the line, and Hummel went 6-for-6 as PU hit 24 of 25 FTAs in the second half. In the championship game, Purdue shot only 35.1 percent and fell to Alabama, 65-56. Hummel had a team-high 17, but shot 5-for-15 and connected on only 1 of 7 from three. Purdue fell behind 11-0, but fought back and went into halftime down, 24-23. In the second half there were two ties and four lead changes in the first eight minutes, before Purdue went cold, including missing 10 of 16 free throws. A 9-1 Alabama run proved too much to overcome. Hummel and Jackson made the All-Tournament Team. Hummel averaged 20.3 points, shooting 36.8 from three, and 92.3 percent from the line, where he was 12-of-13 and made his final 12 attempts, with 6.3 rebounds. Jackson had 17 points on 50 percent shooting, and 83.3 percent from the line, with 4.3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Temple came out flying in its opener and routed Western Michigan, 69-55. Senior guard Ramone Moore had a game-high 15 and senior forward Micheal Eric had a 12-point, 15-rebound double-double to lead the Owls, which had all five starters score in double figures. Temple scored the first nine points and led 37-21 at the half, holding Western Michigan to 23.3 percent shooting, 20 percent from three. Senior point Juan Fernandez put in 14 with a game-high six assists. In its next game, Temple dropped an 85-77 decision to Purdue. The game saw 50 fouls and 60 free-throw attempts. Moore scored a game-high 27 on 8-for-18 shooting, 10-of-15 from the line. Fernandez and junior guard Khalif Wyatt each had 12. Temple trailed by four at the half and for most of the second half. They went on a 9-0 run, capped by a Moore layup to take a short-lived 40-39 lead. They’d fall behind by as much as eight before another 9-0 run forged the game’s seventh tie with 3:07 left. But Purdue scored 11 of the next 13 points and sealed the game at the line. Both teams shot 25 free throws in the second half, but Temple missed seven of theirs, while Purdue missed one. The Owls took third place, outlasting Wichita State, 78-74, in overtime. Moore scored 23 points, six in the extra session, and Eric went for 14 and 12. The Owls were 4-for-4 from the floor in OT, scoring the first seven points, and held the Shockers to 3-for-11 shooting. TU led by six at the half and by eight with 6:58 to play, but needed a game-tying Fernandez three with 1:03 left to force overtime. Moore earned a berth on the All-Tournament Team, averaging 21.7 points on 46.8 percent shooting, with 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds.
Western Michigan couldn’t overcome a slow start in its 69-55 loss to Temple. The Broncos trailed by 16 at the half and by as many as 22 in the second half. Cold shooting hurt, as Western made only seven of 30 first-half shots (23.3 percent) and only two of 10 threes. Sophomore center Matt Stainbrook had 14 points and 12 rebounds; senior forward Flenard Whitfield chipped in 12. Western pulled to within 12 early in the second half, but then allowed a crushing 10-0 run. Western also trailed the entire game in a 94-88 loss to Iona. Stainbrook had another double-double, going for a game-high 25 with 11 rebounds, and Whitfield added 13 and a game-high 16 rebounds. WMU cut a 15-point deficit to three at the break. The Broncos shot a blazing 61.1 percent, 46.7 from three, and used a 16-4 run to cut an 18-point lead to six with 4:47 to play, but got no closer. Western held a 50-34 edge in rebounding (18-6 on the offensive glass) and a 31-2 edge in second-chance points—22-0 in the second 20 minutes—but was hurt by 25 turnovers, turned into 27 points. The Broncos led at halftime in their finale but lost 81-76 to Colorado. Stainbrook went for 20 and eight, and senior guard Demetrius Ward added 16 points and eight assists, without a turnover. Western stormed out to a 13-3 lead, led 21-9 and took a 35-31 lead into the half. A wild second half ensued–13 ties and nine lead changes—and neither team leading by more than five. But Western went without a field goal the final 3:30, allowing Colorado to go on a decisive 10-5 run.
Wichita State used a late first-half run to take the lead for good, fending off Colorado, 67-58. Senior forward Ben Smith scored 17, on a game-high 4 threes; senior guard Touré Murry had 17 off the bench; and senior center Garrett Stutz added 14 and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Shockers closed the half on a 9-2 run to take a 33-26 lead into intermission. They never trailed in the second half. WSU had an 11-0 edge on second-chance points in the second half, and Stutz’s five offensive rebounds matched the entire Colorado team. Wichita State could not repeat history in its next game as No. 16 Alabama topped the Shockers, 70-60, in a rematch of last year’s NIT final. WSU shot 33.8 percent, had a tournament-record 14 blocks and committed 18 turnovers. Murry scored 18 and junior forward Carl Hall grabbed 12 rebounds. Wichita trailed by three at the break, but shot 27 percent in the second half and trailed the final 16:04. An 8-2 run closed the gap to four with 3:11 left, but WSU never got closer. The tournament ended with a disappointing 78-74 overtime loss to Temple. The Shockers got 24 from Murry and a 13-14 double-double from Stutz to overcome a six-point halftime deficit and a late eight-point deficit in a second half, with six ties and seven lead changes. WSU took a 64-61 lead on a 5-0 run in a 46-second span with 63 seconds remaining, but a three by Temple’s Juan Fernandez at :43 forced overtime. The Shockers, who shot 3-for-11 and 0-for-4 from three in OT, quickly fell behind by seven. They’d get within three on Stutz’s two free throws with 39 seconds left, but never shot for the tie.
University of Maryland alum Jon Cooper is an Atlanta-based freelance writer.