Trevor Releford

Trevor Releford helps Alabama past Oregon State, Crimson Tide advance to 2K Sports Classic title game

Leave a comment

NEW YORK, N.Y.–When Alabama head coach Anthony Grant was asked by local media whether his team would be doing anything “fun” during their trip to New York City for the 2K Sports Classic, he answered bluntly and honestly.

“Yes,” Grant said. “We are going to play basketball.”

By Grant’s definition, the Crimson Tide had fun Thursday night, narrowly defeating Oregon State, 65-62, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

With the game tied and 12 seconds remaining, Alabama sophomore Rodney Cooper hit a three-pointer from the left wing, giving the Crimson Tide a 65-62 lead. On the possible game-tying possession, Oregon State point guard Ahmad Starks dribbled into traffic and lost the ball out of bounds.

Cooper missed a key free throw for Alabama with three seconds remaining on the following possession, giving Oregon State one more chance to tie, but a heave from Roberto Nelson was off target as the buzzer sounded.

Guard Trevor Releford directed the offense and scored 14 points, for much of the night the sparkplug for the Alabama offense getting to the basket and creating off the dribble.

Fellow guard Trevor Lacey led Alabama scorers with 20 points.

With a slim three-point advantage at halftime, Alabama opened the second half on a 12-2 run, which pushed the lead into double digits.

Oregon State was able to fight back and pull within five points with six minutes remaining after a Devon Collier layup, but two quick Alabama scores, including an alley-oop from Trevor Releford to Lacey, put an end to the run.

Another Collier-led run tied the game with 40 seconds remaining, but coach Craig Robinson and the Beavers came up short.

Collier finished with 21 points for Oregon State in the loss.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Leave a comment

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Leave a comment

Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.