Releford Steps Up In Alabama Victory
Enter Alabama freshman point guard Trevor Releford, who scored 20 points in 33 minutes to insure his team lived to play another day. He entered the game averaging 10.4 points. Green averages 15.8, but was held to six.
His 20 points tied his career high mark.
"I was just taking what the defense was giving me. They weren't really helping on the screen, and that opened up the lane for me," Releford said.
"J-mike (JaMychal Green) brings a lot to the team, but we know when he goes out, we have to pick up the slack. We can't slow down."
Releford's performance, which included six assists versus only two turnovers, was especially pleasing to his coach.
"Trevor, all year, has done an outstanding job, not necessarily in scoring," said Anthony Grant. "That's what you want to see in your basketball team, is when opportunities present themselves, someone stepping up. I thought Trevor did a good job of stepping up."
Said Lobos guard Kendall Williams, himself a freshman, " With Green having foul trouble, their freshman point guard (Releford) stepped up for them."
Lobos Coach Steve Alford noticed Releford, too. He couldn't help but notice. "He's very good. That was a concern for us. Releford does a very good job of being somebody who isn't reliant on a jump shot. For a kid his size, the job he does of getting to the rim and finishing is amazing."
Tony Mitchell led all scorers with 23, including several eye-popping dunks. He, too, picked up the slack left by Green's absences.
"JaMychal's a great player, but we know sometimes he wont be in the game, so we have to step up,:" Mitchell said.
NOTES: After a game out of the starting five, Tony Mitchell returned to the starting rotation as the Tide used the sophomore, JaMychal Green, Chris Hines, Charvez Davis and Trevor Releford. The start was the 33rd of Releford's freshman season.
With 15:32 left in the half Senario Hillman picked up his 174th career steal to tie Terry Coner for the career lead in the category at UA. Hillman didn't get another steal in the game.
With its first-half leads, New Mexico became just the 11th opponent to hold a lead on UA at home this season and just the fourth non-conference team to do so.
New Mexico became the 20th opponent this season to score less than 30 points in the opening half.
Alabama led at halftime for the 23rd time this season. UA is now 20-3 when leading at half this season.
Redshirt sophomore forward Andrew Steele missed his second straight game with a concussion. His place in the eight-man playing rotation was again taken by freshman Charles Hankerson, who tallied one rebound and one assist in 10 minutes.
Freshman forward Jason Carter joined Steele in street clothes.
Alabama used all nine available scholarship players in the first half, and all nine recorded at least one rebound. 7-foot-1 freshman Carl Engstrom blocked a Lobos shot as time expired to preserve a 30-26 halftime lead.
In perhaps a carryover from Alford's days as a player at Indiana under Bob Knight, the Lobos do not have their names on their jerseys.
The 2011 SEC gymnastics champions were honored at the half. Alabama will host the NCAA Regionals on April 2.
Freshman point guard Ben Eblen doesn't score much, but his layup in the second half to put the Tide up 55-41 at 15:30 mark of the second half delighted the crowd of 6,821.
Alabama set a school record with its 18th home win of the season. Bama is unbeaten at home and has won 19 straight games at Coleman Coliseum.
Grant was asked on his post-game radio show by Bama play-by-play man Chris Stewart: "You've got your hometown team coming up." Said Grant: "I'm from Tuscaloosa now."
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