Nov. 11, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; West Alabama Tigers guard Jacob Acker (11) drives the ball past Alabama Crimson Tide guard Levi Randolph (20) during the second half at Coleman Coliseum. Alabama won 80-49. Mandatory Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Basketball: Levi Randolph is the X-Factor for the Crimson Tide

Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the Aggies of Texas A&M today at 5 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa. Bama is now 10-6, and currently boast a two-game winning streak. After suffering a handful of embarrassing losses in December, the Tide finally is gaining some positive momentum in conference play.

Trevor Releford’s playing status is still up in the air. He suffered a high ankle sprain which kept him out of Wednesday’s game against Mississippi State. Releford will be a game time decision tonight, as pain tolerance will be the key issue.

While Releford has been the Tide’s leading scorer all season with 16.3 points, and Trevor Lacy (12.4) and Rodney Cooper (12.1) also continue to average double digit points, Levi Randolph has the hot hand at the moment. He made several key baskets against Tennessee last Saturday that helped keep the Tide afloat, and went off for 18 points against the Bulldogs on Wednesday. Levi is averaging 15 points per game without Releford in the lineup, which helps to ease some offensive concerns Tide fans have had all season.

This two-game stretch for Levi Randolph is exactly what he has needed. Randolph is an able enough scorer; he has the ability to catch and shoot, or create his own shot off the dribble. There has been a lack of confidence in his shooting ability stemming from early in the season. Through his first 7 games, Levi only averaged 6.5 points per game, and at times looked tentative and unsure of himself.

For a team that is ranked 199th in college basketball in scoring (65.5 points per game), any newfound source of scoring is great news. Of course, it is not as if Levi Randolph is just now figuring out how to play, but it is possible that something has “clicked” for him. He has been more aggressive offensively. He looks much more confident shooting the ball, and in is overall abilities as a scorer.

Levi Randolph is the X-factor going forward for the Tide, which is not to say he hasn’t been valuable to the team. He is a great defender, and a supurb on-the-ball defender. But if he can continue to contribute double digit points along with Lacey, Cooper, and eventually Releford when he returns from injury, the Tide’s SEC schedule will be much more maneuverable.

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