Releford, Alabama beat Oklahoma State 69-52By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011
The Crimson Tide (9-3), unranked for the first time this season, had lost three of its last four games and leading scorer JaMychal Green didn’t dress because of a nagging right shoulder injury.
The Cowboys (6-5) cut a 19-point second-half deficit briefly down to single digits before dropping their third straight game at the site about an hour from Alabama’s campus.
Tony Mitchell had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Tide, while freshman Trevor Lacey added 12 in his first start. Releford was 7-of-10 shooting and also had six rebounds and four steals.
Le’Bryan Nash led Oklahoma State with 17 and Jean-Paul Olukemi scored 12.
Alabama snapped out of a perimeter shooting slump by hitting six 3-pointers in the first half.
The Tide had risen as high as No. 12 in the rankings before the recent struggles. Green had remained hot with back-to-back 20-point games.
Alabama’s top recruit, Lacey, helped soften his absence by hitting 2 of 3 3-pointers
Mitchell missed nine straight shots before a fast-break dunk helped Alabama turn back the first Oklahoma State big rally that cut it down to 10 midway through the second half.
The Cowboys got a little closer in launching their next threat, trimming it to 56-47 on Cezar Guerrero’s 3-pointer with 5:47 left.
Lacey answered with a long jumper for his only second-half basket and the Tide made four straight free throws to pull away.
Alabama hit 26 of 56 shots (46.4 percent) while the Cowboys were 18 of 55 shooting (32.7 percent).
The Tide carried a 40-22 lead into halftime after making 6 of 9 3-pointers. Alabama had made just 12 3s in its last five games and came in ranked 335th of 338 teams in shots made from beyond the arc.
The Tide cooled down in the second half but still finished 7 of 15 from 3-point range.
In the first half, Nash had scored 11 straight Oklahoma State points to help trim another 19-point deficit down to 35-22. Then Rodney Cooper made a catch-and-shoot 3 that just beat the shot clock and Releford drove for a layup with 5 seconds left.