Coming into Saturday’s game, the Alabama Crimson Tide had yet to get a win over a single team ranked in the RPI Top-50. That was until the Texas A&M Aggies came to Tuscaloosa, as they entered the game sporting a Top-35 RPI. Alabama came away with a thrilling 50-49 win. I use the word “thrilling” loosely because the game was pretty dull until the end.
Alabama played about as bad as you can play in the first half. A ten minute scoring drought led to just 15 first half points as Alabama went into the locker room trailing by eleven. Whatever Anthony Grant said to the team at halftime obviously worked, because the Tide came out on fire to star the second half. A 15-2 run put Alabama in the lead at 30-28.
From there, it was back and forth the rest of the way. Trailing 47-45 with under a minute remaining, senior Andrew Steele, who had been on the bench for most of the evening due to foul trouble, converted an and-1 to put Alabama up 48-47. Texas A&M’s Fabyon Harris answered with a jumper to put the Aggies back ahead by one.
With 14.7 seconds to go, Anthony Grant called a timeout ahead of the biggest offensive possession of the season. Out of the timeout, the ball was put in the hands of sophomore Trevor Lacey, who once again came up clutch. Lacey buried a long two with 8-seconds to go, and then Trevor Releford was able to steal the ensuing inbound pass and nearly run out the clock. Releford was fouled with 0.4 seconds to play. He missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Texas A&M didn’t even have enough time for a long heave.
Releford, back after missing the Mississippi State game with an ankle injury, came off the bench to lead the Crimson Tide in scoring with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He added three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Trevor Lacey had a strong all around game with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Elston Turner led Texas A&M with 13 points.
This was a crucial game for Alabama to boost their admittedly thin NCAA Tournament resume. This is Alabama’s first quality win of the season, and it keeps their slim hopes of getting back to the big dance for the second year in a row alive.
The win is Alabama’s third straight to run their overall record to 11-6 and their SEC record to 3-1.
Next up for Alabama is another big contest at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night against the Kentucky Wildcats. Calipari’s bunch has struggled so far this season, but they are still one of the most talented teams in college basketball, and they will present a big challenge for Alabama.
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