Two struggling teams walked into Coleman Coliseum on Saturday afternoon as the Alabama Crimson Tide (8-5) faced off against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (7-10, 2-1 Summit). Coming into the game, Alabama had lost five of their last six games, but the Tide rebounded in a big way. Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide dominated Oakland for much of the game and walked away with a 65-45 victory.
Alabama’s first win since December 19 was a full team effort. Three of Alabama’s five starters finished in double digits and several players were able to add key minutes from the bench.
Trevor Releford led all scorers with 18 points including a 2-4 performance from three point range. He also added 4 assists, a rebound, and a steal from his guard position. Levi Randolph finished with 15 points (6-11, 3-5 from three point range) capping one of his best offensive performances of the year. Randolph also added 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Rodney Cooper scored 11 points and added 4 rebounds. Nick Jacobs and Trevor Lacey rounded out the starting five with 6 and 2 points respectively.
In Alabama’s most complete game since the 2K Sports Classic, the Crimson Tide controlled the game on both sides of the ball. Trevor Releford and Levi Randolph seemed to be unstoppable at times especially on the dribble-drive. For the first time all year Alabama was able to completely dominate the low post. Nick Jacobs, Devonta Pollard, and Moussa Gueye were able to control the paint against the Golden Grizzlies. Nick Jacobs finished with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks and Devonta Pollard added 2 rebounds in fourteen minutes of play off the bench. Moussa Gueye provided a big spark for the Crimson Tide off the bench. Gueye put together his best game in an Alabama uniform. He lead all players with 9 total rebounds including one offensive rebound. He also finished with 4 points and 2 blocks.
Duke Mondy led the Golden Grizzles with 11 points and prolific scorer Travis Bader was limited to 10 points. The career 41% three point shooter was held to a 1-5 effort from behind the line by Levi Randolph and the rest of the Crimson Tide defense.
Although the Crimson Tide cruised to a 20-point victory over Oakland, there is still room for improvement. Alabama played very sloppy in the first half, even though they only committed 14 turnovers. As Anthony Grant prepares his team for conference play, look for the Tide to focus on continuing to improve motion on the offensive side of the ball and executing on set plays.
Andrew Steele was also able to add 17 valuable minutes in his return from sports hernia surgery. Steele missed seven games due to the injury. He finished with a solid 2 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, and one steal. Andrew Steele adds a lot that isn’t shown on the stat sheet. As the only scholarship senior, Andrew Steele is a leader when he’s on the court. His hustle and basketball knowledge is unmatched. Although his absence wasn’t the only reason for Alabama’s early season slump, it could have played a significant role.
Alabama opens up the conference schedule on January 8 against the Missouri Tigers in Columbia. Although the Tigers struggled against Bucknell earlier today, they will be prepared for their first conference basketball game as a member of the SEC. Missouri is a favorite for the conference championship and it will take Alabama’s best effort to knock them off in a hostile enviroment. Tuesday night’s game will air on ESPN at 6pm CT.
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