Among the problems Alabama basketball has had lately had been slow starts. In Lubbock, Tex., Wednesday the Crimson Tide got off to a jack rabbit start against Texas Tech. The Alabama hare, however, turned into the Tide tortoise in the second half and it was all Bama could do to squeak by a woeful Red Raiders team.
Although Alabama squandered most of a 20-point second half lead, the Crimson Tide was able to end a three-game losing streak with a 66-62 win.
Alabama improved to 7-3 while the Red Raiders, who have played every game in Lubbock this year, fell to 5-3.
Trevor Lacey started the game with a pair of three-point shots and freshman Devota Pollard hit a pair of free throws and before the game was two minutes old Bama had an 8-0 lead. Although the Red Raiders would close to within two points at 63-61 with just over a minute to play, Alabama never trailed in the game.
After back-to-back road games, Bama returns to Coleman Coliseum Saturday to host Mercer. Tipoff will be at 1 p.m. CST and the game will be televised by CSS. That will be the first of three home games for the Tide to close out 2012.
Alabama used its fast start to manage a 43-27 halftime lead. The Tide had enjoyed as much as an 18-point first half lead, the last time at 39-21.
After Alabama’s fast start, the Red Raiders got it back to 10-7, but Lacey hit another trey – he was 4-4 in the first half – and also got a layup (both on assists from Pollard) and the lead was back to eight. Lacey had 14 points at the break.
When Lacey hit a three-pointer to make it 24-12 midway through the first half, Texas Tech never again got within single digits until its extraordinary second half rally.
For the game, Lacey finished with 21 points and Trevor Releford with 17. Pollard had eight points and six rebounds. Nick Jacobs came off the bench to score eight points, but had only one rebound. Moussa Gueye also came off the bench and had seven rebounds, but zero points – including missing two free throws in the final seconds.
At the half, the Tide had made 14-26 field goals (53.8 per cent) including 5-9 three-pointers (55.6 per cent) and 10-11 free throws. Bama held Texas Tech to 10-28 field goals (35.7 per cent) including only 1-9 on treys (11.1 per cent) and 6-7 free throws. Alabama had an 18-12 rebounding advantage.
But Alabama’s hot first half offense turned to slush in the second half, a combination of poor shooting and careless turnovers. Bama took only 19 second half shots. For the game, shooting was very good, 23-45 for 51.1 per cent. Bama was 0-5 in the second half on three-point shots, finishing at 5-14 for 35.7 per cent. And The Tide made only 4-11 free throws in the second half, finishing with 15-22 for 68.2 per cent.
Bama won the rebounding battle, 32-26, but that was offset by Alabama having 18 turnovers to 14 for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech had a poor shooting night, 22-58 for 37.9 per cent, including just 3-18 (16.7 per cent) on treys. The home team did convert 15-21 free throws.
Jaye Crockett, Texas Tech’s best player even though he doesn’t start, had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Red Raiders.
With 12:10 to play Alabama had a 20-point lead at 55-35 on a Releford jumper. The Tide had held Texas Tech to eight points in the first eight minutes of the second period. The danger, though, was that Bama had scored only 12 points in that time.
And Alabama’s next field goal came almost eight minutes later with 4:21 to play, a Pollard drive and layup.
In the last two minutes, Releford made 4-6 free throws and Levi Randolph made a jump shot with 35 seconds to play to hold off the Red Raiders.
Alabama had a new starting lineup with Lacey, Releford, Randolph, Pollard, and Rodney Cooper opening.