TUSCALOOSA — Alabama’s Carl Engstrom got his first start in Friday night’s 59-46 win over Charleston Southern, and the 7-foot-1 Swedish native made it count.
Engstrom had a career-high eight rebounds, which equals the number he got in the first four games combined. He also had a couple of blocks, two steals and six points.
“Carl came in and was extremely active,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “It was good to see him go after shots on defense — block shots, alter shots, affect shots. He was active in rebounding, too, and that’s good to see.”
He even had a thunderous one-handed dunk, drawing a pretty big cheer from the Coleman Coliseum crowd of 12,425.
“That felt good. It felt good,” Engstrom said. “We ran that same play in practice, and I got one there, too. I got one there, too.”
It was one of six dunks for Alabama (5-0), which trailed 27-26 before outscoring Charleston Southern 10-0 in the final 2:31 in the first half. The Tide never led by fewer than five points after that.
Trevor Releford paced Alabama with 22 points and six assists. Trevor Lacey struggled with his shooting and made only one 3-pointer, but he spent a lot of time at point guard, even with Releford on the floor. He finished with nine points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds in 34 minutes of play.
Alabama’s Rodney Cooper, a 6-6 guard who is the team’s third-leading scorer, didn’t play because of shoulder tendinitis. Grant said he injured himself last week in the 2K Sports Classic in New York City and hasn’t practiced since then.