Nov. 16, 2012
NEW YORK - Junior guard Trevor Releford drained a career-high 25 points to lead the Alabama men's basketball team to a 77-55 victory over Villanova on Friday to win the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden. With the win, the Crimson Tide improves to 4-0 on the season, while the loss drops the Wildcats to 3-1.
Releford hit 8 of his 10 attempts in the game and was 5-for-5 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper reached double-figure points for the fourth time in as many games this season as well, scoring 17.
For their efforts, Releford was named the Classic’s Most Outstanding Player, while Cooper also earned all-tournament accolades.
“I thought we came out tonight for 40 minutes and really did a good job,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “Defensively, I thought we played great. I felt like it was a pretty dominating performance by our guys and we were able maintain our composure when we got into some foul trouble the first half. The guys that came in did a great job of giving us the some energy. Through the second half we were able to build a lead. When we subbed the guys, they did a great job at building on that lead. It was great (tonight’s game) coming off of last night, learning the lessons that we needed to learn from that game. We were able to come out and to close this one out strong. I’m really proud of the effort and growth of our team.”
The Crimson Tide broke open a tight game early in the second half on the strength of a 23-6 run, which turned a two-point deficit (29-31) into a 15-point cushion (52-37) in a span of 9:51. Alabama never looked back, stretching its lead to as many as 24 points.
For the game, Alabama shot 59.5 percent (25-of-42) from the floor, including 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from three-point range. The Tide outrebounded the Wildcats, 37-27, and had a 23-4 edge in points off turnovers, despite having just one more turnover than Villanova (15-14).
Levi Randolph finished with seven points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals, while redshirt freshman Retin Obashohan chipped in with seven points off the bench. UA leading scoring Trevor Lacey was hampered by foul trouble in the first half, and finished with seven points, to goal along with four rebounds and four assists.
The tournament marked the second consecutive year Alabama has won a preseason event after capturing the 2011 Puerto Rico Classic.
“This tournament was great for us because we had some challenges here,” Grant said. “We learned some lessons every game and have been able to take something from it. I am proud that our guys have been willing to do that and understand we are not where we want to be and we are hoping to be better. A year ago we won a tournament in Puerto Rico and then hit some bumps. You never know where you're going to go.”
The Tide returns to the hardwood on Friday, Nov. 23, when it hosts Charleston Southern in Coleman Coliseum. The game is slated to tip at 7 p.m. CT.