The Alabama Crimson Tide opened up the 2012-13 basketball season with a 70-67 win at the buzzer over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. It was sophomore guard Trevor Lacey who came up clutch with a game winning three pointer at the buzzer to lift the Crimson Tide to a season opening victory.
Don’t write off the Jackrabbits by name alone. This is a very good mid-major squad that is actually one of the best teams Alabama will play out of conference in the regular season. They were an NCAA Tournament team last season, and returned four starters from that squad.
It looked like the season would get off on a sour note in the first half as South Dakota State seized control of the game. They led by as many as 13 points in the first half before the Crimson Tide ended the half on an 11-0 run to cut their lead to two. It was the Crimson Tide cranking up the defensive pressure that changed the game as they forced 6 turnovers over the half’s final three minutes.
Alabama seized control of the game after Trevor Releford put the Crimson Tide in the lead with 11-minutes to go. From there, it looked like Alabama would coast to victory, but the Jackrabbits and potential All American Nate Wolters refused to go away. Every time it looked like Alabama had finally put South Dakota State away, it was Wolters who came up with a big basket to keep his team in the game.
It was an unlikely player, Tony Fiegen, who sank a baseline jumper that tied the game at 67 with 34-seconds to play. Alabama played for one shot, and I don’t think Anthony Grant drew up a contested three for Trevor Lacey in the timeout. But, that’s the shot the Crimson Tide got at the buzzer and fortunately Lacey was able to knock it down to give Alabama a big win over a team that will probably be an NCAA Tournament team this year.
Preseason All-SEC pick Trevor Releford came off the bench to play 29 minutes and led Alabama with 18 points. He took over the game in the second half. Rodney Cooper came up with a couple of huge plays throughout the game including a steal in the first half that ignited the 11-0 run and a clutch three late in the second half. He finished the game with 17 points.
Trevor Lacey scored 15 points on 5/8 shooting from the floor including the game winner. Andrew Steele also finished in double figures with 11 points off the bench in 30 minutes. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and led the team with 4 assists.
True freshman Devonta Pollard struggled in his first game. He started but only played 14 ineffective minutes where his only contribution to the stat sheet were two blocked shots. He didn’t play much, if any, in the second half.
The Crimson Tide shot 48% from the field after shooting just 36% in the first half. Alabama got to the basket at will in the second half, and that was the main reason for the better shooting performance in the final twenty minutes. The Tide also connected on all 14 of its free throw attempts.
South Dakota State was led by Nate Wolters, who led all scorers with 30 points. Jordan Dykstra was the only other Jackrabbit in double figures with 16 points. Alabama didn’t have much of an answer for either of those guys, but they managed to keep the rest of the South Dakota State team from doing much damage.
All in all, while there are definitely plenty of things for Alabama to work on, it is always nice to start a season with a victory. Come March, we will look back on this game against South Dakota State as a quality win for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama will be back in Coleman Coliseum on Sunday for a game with West Alabama.
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