NIT Northeastern Alabama

Former McDonald’s All-American Devonta Pollard enrolls at junior college

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Former Alabama forward Devonta Pollard — a McDonald’s All-American in 2012 — will enroll at East Mississippi Community College, according to a report from’s Gary Parrish.

East Mississippi Community College is the only NJCAA school in the country to reach the national tournament four consecutive seasons and will have Pollard for a season after the 6’8″ sophomore averaged  3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for the Crimson Tide last season.

Pollard left Alabama in the offseason following an arrest and charges in conjunction with kidnapping a six-year-old girl in a family land dispute. The former Alabama forward still faces a charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and, if convicted, he could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison.

It was unclear if Pollard would try to play college basketball this season until now and if he figures out his legal matters, it would be intriguing to see which schools went after the former five-star recruit.

Alabama and UCLA schedule home-and-home series

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As teams begin to solidify their non-conference schedules for the 2013-14 season, it has been reported that UCLA will host Alabama next season with the Bruins traveling to Alabama the following year.

Anthony Grant may have his best team in next season his fifth in Tuscaloosa even with Trevor Lacey transferring out of the program. While Lacey’s decision to transfer is certainly a major blow as he was a double digit scorer and averaged better than three assists and rebounds as a sophomore, Trevor Releford returns and highly touted center Jimmie Taylor should be one of the better freshmen in the SEC.

UCLA, meanwhile, begins anew with first year head coach Steve Alford–out are Ben Howland and his prized recruit Shabazz Muhammad. Alford still has plenty of pieces to work with as rising sophomores Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams will make for a strong nucleus.


This is a nice series for both schools pitting upper-tier Pac-12 and SEC teams against one another.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Late Night Snacks: Kevin Ollie keeps Connecticut moving with first Big East win

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Game of the Day

Brown 75, Niagara 74 (OT)

Brown’s Matt Sullivan scored five of his 20 points in the final 1:30 of regulation to help erase a six-point Niagara lead, tie the game at 62, and force overtime. In the extra period, Brown worked from behind to take the lead and seal the game with free throws.

Sean McGonagill led the way for Brown with 23 points, along with seven assists and three steals. Brown improves to 5-8 on the year with the victory.

Important Outcomes 

1. Connecticut 99, DePaul 78

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie won his first Big East game as a head coach with the Huskies’ blowout victory over DePaul. The backcourt combo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright did what they’ve been doing all year, but the emergence of DeAndre Daniels could be a difference-maker. (See Below)

2. No. 10 Missouri 84, Alabama 68

Alabama missed out on a chance to secure a signature win in the SEC and the opportunities to do so are in short supply. For Missouri, though, the focus won’t be on the win, but the health of senior Laurence Bowers, who went down with an injury in the second half. Coach Frank Haith reportedly announced after the game that Bowers would undergo an MRI Wednesday to assess damage to his left knee.

3. No. 15 Ohio State 74, Purdue 64

Ohio State needed to bounce back after a loss over the weekend to Illinois. They got that Tuesday, with a solid road win over Purdue. The Big Ten conference schedule is unforgiving, though, and the Buckeyes meet No. 2 Michigan next.


1. Quinn Cook (Duke) 27 points, 12-of-16 shooting, 5 assists, 4 steals

When Ryan Kelly went down with a foot injury in the first half Tuesday against Clemson, Cook stepped up in a big way. His 27 points were a career high and propelled Duke to a blowout victory. If Kelly is to miss a significant amount of time, Cook’s added production will be welcome.

2. Brandon Young (DePaul) 35 points, 13-of-22 shooting, 5 assists

Though the Blue Demons fell to Connecticut, Young had an impressive individual game. Young has been the second scoring option for Oliver Purnell’s team behind Cleveland Melvin, and those two together give DePaul at least a couple assets as they move into Big East play.

3. DeAndre Daniels (Connecticut) 26 points, 9-of-12 shooting, 8 rebounds

The Connecticut backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright has been the focus all season, but DeAndre Daniels will be important for the Huskies as Big East play moves on. There will no postseason this year, but it is about building for the future. Daniels is part of that bright future.

Also of Note: Jabari Brown (Missouri) Career-high 22 points, including 5-of-7 from three-point range


1. Georgetown’s Offense (Again)

The Hoyas have had a few ugly offensive outings this season, including a 37-36 win over Tennessee earlier in the year. Tuesday night at the Verizon Center was no exception. The Hoyas shot 36 percent from the floor, turned the ball over 16 times, and mustered just 45 points.

2. Tyler Brown (Illinois State)

Brown, the second-leading scorer for Illinois State, got just two shots (0-of-2) in a loss to Missouri State. He also missed two shots from the free throw line and finished with 0 points.

3. James Kinney (San Jose State)

Kinney has been San Jose State’s leading scorer all season, but he struggled with a 3-of-18 shooting night against New Orleans. His team was able to compensate, pulling together to get the victory.

Three Facts 

1. Duke will need Ryan Kelly back to maintain this level of play in the ACC. His ability to stretch the floor changes the dynamic of the Blue Devil offense and having him back as soon as possible will be key.

2. The same goes for Missouri and Laurence Bowers. He has been a great story this year, having come back from major knee surgery to be so integral to Missouri’s early season success, but if problems begin in his other knee, it could be a blow to the Tigers’ hopes in the SEC.

3. Georgetown needs to fix whatever is wrong with its offense or it will risk not reaching the NCAA tournament. Against a tough Big East conference schedule, having scoring droughts like the one seen Tuesday night will not suffice.

Top 25 Scores

No. 1 Duke 68, Clemson 40

No. 10 Missouri 84, Alabama 68

No. 13 Creighton 91, Drake 61

No. 15 Ohio State 74, Purdue 64

Pittsburgh 73, No. 19 Georgetown 45

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

Alabama lets chance for signature win slip away, Laurence Bowers injured in Missouri victory

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Alabama had its chance to be the bully Monday night when it dominated Notre Dame on the football field, 42-14, to win the BCS National Championship Game.

Tuesday night on the basketball court, it was the Crimson Tide playing the role of Notre Dame football, falling to No. 10 Missouri, 84-68, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Alabama, fighting for a quality win in the comparably weak SEC, started the game 2-of-11 from the floor and fell behind by 10 points.

But coach Anthony Grant dialed up the pressure on Missouri’s catalyst, point guard Phil Pressey, and slowed the Tigers’ transition game. By attacking Pressey with double teams defensively, the Crimson Tide forced turnovers and used those stops to rip off a 12-0 and take the lead by three points with 7:08 remaining in the first.

Where Pressey has been Missouri’s distributor, Alabama point guard Trevor Releford led the scoring charge Tuesday night.

His 19 first-half points carried the Alabama attack, but his backcourt counterpart Trevor Lacey went scoreless in the first half.

Lacey was hot in the second half by scoring nine points, but Missouri used a 9-3 run in the middle of the half to extend the lead to double digits.

Pressey found his usual comfort zone after a shaky spell for part of the first half, getting into the lane and finishing with 11 points and 13 assists.

Jabari Brown was hot from three-point range. He finished with a career-high 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three. Laurence Bowers was another major beneficiary of Pressey’s dribble penetration, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 from the field.

On the injury front, Bowers left the game limping in the second half and coach Frank Haith reportedly announced postgame that the senior would undergo an MRI tomorrow. Haith expressed concern that Bowers could have an MCL sprain in his right knee. The senior has had a strong 2012-13 so far after recovering from major surgery on his left knee that kept him out for the entire 2011-12 season.

Looking at Alabama’s schedule, the Tide really only have two more marquee matchups in the regular season: Jan. 22 against Kentucky and March 2 against No. 11 Florida.

By missing out on a chance to notch a big road win Tuesday, any NCAA tournament hopes get dimmer for Alabama. An 8-5 non-conference schedule with losses to Tulane and Mercer, combined with a conference slate devoid of a signature win typically doesn’t translate into an NCAA tournament bid.

It’s not out of the question that only three SEC teams make the NCAA tournament. Kentucky, Florida, and Missouri should be in the field of 68, if all goes as planned, but it drops off noticeably after that.

Ole Miss could be in the mix, though their two losses came to Indiana State and Middle Tennessee. Arkansas lost all four non-conference games that could have been quality wins (Syracuse, Michigan, Arizona State, Wisconsin). LSU, Tennessee, Texas A&M.

Who else could emerge and punch a ticket to the tournament?

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

Alabama wins 2K Sports Classic, but tough road awaits in SEC

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After a narrow 65-62 win over Oregon State last night at Madison Square Garden, Alabama’s backcourt combo of Trevor Releford and Rodney Cooper knew what to expect against Villanova’s young point guard Ryan Arcidiacono.

“We wanted to blitz him because he’s a great guard, so we wanted to limit his open looks,” said Cooper.

Alabama turned up the pressure on Arcidiacono and the rest of the Wildcats, speeding up Villanova’s offense and forcing 14 turnovers in a 77-55 win Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

With the victory, Alabama captures the 2K Sports Classic title.

“I thought we came out and defensively we gave a great effort,” said coach Anthony Grant. “I felt like it was a pretty dominating performance.”

The Crimson Tide led by just three points at halftime, and were tied with Villanova ten second into the second half, but a 13-4 run by Alabama over a six-minute stretch in the middle of the second half grew the lead to 15 points.

The Alabama lead reached its high-water mark with a Trevor Lacey dunk, making it 67-45.

Releford was key to the Alabama offense for the second straight night, tallying 25 points, including 5-of-5 shooting from three-point range. His efforts won him the tournament’s MVP award.

“He did a great job of being aggressive and attacking,” said Grant. “Villanova almost forces you to make a play on every possession. Having his veteran leadership out there I thought was great for our younger guys.”

In a crowded SEC this season, with Kentucky, Florida, and newcomer Missouri likely fighting it out at the top, the Crimson Tide will be battling in the middle of the pack.

What Grant’s team might lack in overall talent and depth, they help to compensate with discipline and a backcourt that is tough to match within the conference.

“I think we have potential to be a good team,” said Grant. “We are definitely a work in progress. We could have lost last night’s game very easily. I think the guys got a lot of heart.”

The Crimson Tide return home to host Charleston Southern on Nov. 23.

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

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

Trevor Releford
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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, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_