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Bama, Releford bomb Bulldogs

News Flash: The SEC’s longest active league home court winning streak still is still alive. With its 80-61 win over Mississippi State Wednesday, Alabama has won 14 straight conference games in Coleman Coliseum. The Tide did it behind senior Trevor Releford’s 28 points. He got help from freshman Shannon Hale (12), sophomore Retin Obasohan (11) and junior Rodney Cooper, who scored 10.

“I thought we came out and played with really good energy,” said Tide Coach Anthony Grant, who was able to play little-used reserves Dakota Slaughter and Isiah Wilson late in the contest. Slaughter responded with a 3-pointer with 0.7 to go. Wilson had a rebound, a steal and an assist.

Grant added, “Trevor Releford really went out there and led our team. He had it going tonight.”

Said Releford, “I was very hyped up. I had a lot of energy. It’s fun when you’re executing and doing things right. Coach (Grant) is telling me to shoot the ball.”

Hale added, “I’ve been working harder, and I feel like I’m a lot more confident.”

State Coach Rick Ray said, “Trevor Releford is a great player, but we made him better than he is tonight by not carrying out our defensive assignments. We were game-planning to not let Releford go off, and he went off.

“I’m really disappointed in the way we came out and played. (Alabama) came in, and they were aggressive. I thought we got to the rim a couple of times and just didn’t finish.”

The Bulldogs were led by the 18 points of 6-foot-9, 268-pound sophomore Gavin Ware. Montgomery native Craig Sword scored a dozen.

Hale’s banker from the lane put Bama up for the first and last time, 3-2, two-and-a-half minutes in. Moments later, Jimmie Taylor intercepted an alley-oop pass and fed Releford for a breakaway layup. Taylor then quickly picked up a pair of fouls and was relegated to the bench for all but a minute of the stanza. The largest lead of the half was 13, by the Tide with 44 seconds left in the stanza. A first half that featured but one tie and one lead change ended with Alabama ahead, 38-26.  Cooper was part of a 7-0 early Tide run that included a trey and two free throws by him. UA ended the stanza on a 9-1 run. State never led in the second half, as the Tide lead swelled to 23 points with 9:24 to go in the game.

Levi Randolph’s old fashioned 3-point play got the Tide back up by 13 two minutes into the second half. Carl Engstrom, who had three boards and two blocks,  fed Releford for an assist on a layup and 15-point advantage at the 16:35 mark, but Releford was called for taunting. State’s Colin Borchert split a pair at the line following the call.

Cooper fed Releford for three with 13 minutes left, and the senior knocked another one down 30 seconds later for a 53-35 Tide lead. Ray called time to try to stop the run. At the 11-minute mark, Releford fed Hale for a slam and 19-point lead, delighting the announced crowd of 10,112. With 7:30 left, Obasohan two-hand jammed on a breakaway for a 67-45 advantage.

Alabama (8-8, 2-1 SEC), which scored 17 points on 11 Bulldog turnovers,  will travel to Missouri Saturday, with tip time set for 1 p.m. CT on ESPN2. Mississippi State fell to 11-5, 1-2.

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