Alabama Moves To The NIT Second-Round With Ease
The Alabama men’s basketball team opened play in the 2013 National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum. The last time the Tide played in the NIT was 2011, also earning a No. 1 seed reaching the Finals but falling short in the championship game to Wichita State. This year, again one of the four top-seeded teams, the Crimson Tide makes it to the second round in easy fashion by taking out the Northeastern Huskies 62-43.
Alabama came out fired up and got out to a 17-3 lead within the first 10 minutes of the game. The Tide starters were the same for the 16th straight game with Lacey, Releford, Gueye, Randolph, Cooper. It has been the norm this season for Alabama to go on a 10-0 or 12-0 run and this game was no different. However, this team has also had the same reverse streak where they would go several minutes without scoring a point, and again, this game was no different. Alabama went for several minutes without a point and only four points in the last eight minutes of the half. The Crimson Tide still maintained the lead 28-23 at halftime.
“In the first half, when we got up, we told our guys that this is where they’re most comfortable,” UA Head Coach Anthony Grant said. “We’re going to have to withstand a run here. (Northeastern) made that run, so the challenge for us in the second half was to regroup and refocus, and get over whatever happened and come out with intensity and I thought in the second half our guys responded.”
The Crimson Tide came out for the second half a little sluggish and Northeastern took advantage cutting the Tide’s lead to 1 (28-27) in the first few minutes of the half. That’s when Randolph decided it was time to make a move and drove to the basket drawing the foul, trying to get something started.
That spark is all the guard led team needed by going on a 22-0 run to take a 50-27 lead midway through the second half. Randolph was putting on a show during the run by scoring 9 of the 22 points, and with that, back-to-back slam dunks followed by sinking a three point basket. Randolph finished the game with a game high 13 points and five rebounds with Trevor Lacey right behind him adding 11 to the total.
Junior point guard Trevor Releford continues record breaking year in steals by adding five more to his total of 66 in this game. He led Alabama with seven points in the first half, but only added two more in the second half during the 22-0 run.
“Defensively, we really turned it up,” Grant said. “We caused some problems, we were able to get out in transition, guys were extremely aggressive from an offensive standpoint. We were then able to open it back up and win comfortably.”
Alabama (22-12) will play the Stanford-Stephen F. Austin winner in the second round in Coleman Coliseum. The date and time of the second round will be announced after the games are completed on Wednesday night (March 20, 2013). The Crimson Tide could be back in action as early as Thursday night.
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