The question became whether the hole had been too deep. Alabama fell behind by 14 points in the first half, trailed by 11 at intermission, and fought back in the second half to take the lead. And in the end the Tide had just enough to defeat Texas A&M, 50-49.
Trevor Lacey, whose hot shooting had keyed Alabama’s win at Mississippi State earlier in the week, hit an ice-water-in-his-veins jumper with just over eight seconds to play and Bama stole the ball on the Texas A&M inbounds to give the Crimson Tide three consecutive wins since November.
The Crimson Tide improved to 11-6 overall and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference games. Texas A&M is now 12-5 overall and 2-2 in league contests.
Next up for Alabama is the Kentucky Wildcats in Coleman. Bama hosts Kentucky at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday with television coverage by ESPN.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant called it “a great character win. What we talked about at the half was that we could play better and we just had to come out and do that, have our defense create some offense for us. We just wanted to cut into it. Our guys stayed the course and thankfully we made enough plays down the stretch to come out victorious.”
Trevor Releford, who had not played in Bama’s previous game, came back and scored 15 points, all in the second half. It was Releford’s second consecutive game to score all his points in the second half. He also had 15 second half points against Tennessee.
Lacey hit 4-6 three-point shots in addition to the game-winner and had 14 points. Lacey also had six rebounds and five assists and had three steals against only two turnovers. Nick Jacobs came off the bench to score eight points.
Texas A&M was led by Elston Turner with 13 points and J’Mychal Reese with 10.
After shooting just 27.8 per cent in the first half, Alabama hit 56.5 per cent in the second half and finished with 18-41 from the field for 43.9 per cent. Texas A&M hit 20-42 from the field for 47.6 per cent. The Tide was good on 6-11 on three-point shots (54.5 per cent) and held the Aggies to only 2-11 for only 18.2 per cent. Bama made 8-15 free throws, a mediocre 53.3 per cent, while A&M made 7-10. Texas A&M had a slight edge in rebounding, 27-25.
Alabama had only one steal at the half but finished with 10. A&M had only three steals.
Texas A&M outscored Alabama by 30-22 in the paint and 7-2 on second chance points and had 20 points on the Tide’s 16 turnovers while Bama had 11 points off the Aggies’ 15 turnovers.
After a terrible first half, Alabama scored the first seven points of the second half, all coming off Texas A&M turnovers. Lacey started it with a three-pointer, Releford drove and scooped in a short shot, and Rodney Cooper dunked on a fast break assist from Lacey to cut the deficit to only four points at 26-22 with less than two minutes elapsed.
A minute later after a Lacey alley-oop to Levi Randolph and a Lacey trey off a nice assist from Releford and the Tide had cut the lead to one-point, 28-27.
One more minute and Cooper’s trey gave the Tide its first lead since it was 3-2 in the first minute of the game. Bama was up 30-28. Two minutes later the Tide would get a short shot from Nick Jacobs off a Lacey assist and Bama had a four-point lead, which would be the Tide’s largest of the game.
The Aggies had a five-point lead at 39-34 with eight and a half minutes to play, but Bama tied it up at 41-41 on an amazing save of a near turnover. The ball got away from Nick Jacobs, but Releford scooped it up and got it into the basket.
From there is was back-and-forth. A&M’s Alex Caruso drove for a layup that gave the Aggies a 47-45 lead with just over a minute to play. Andrew Steele came back with a nice drive on the left side and a right-handed shot that went in. He was fouled and made it for a 48-47 Tide advantage.
A&M’s Fabyon Harris drove the lane and got the friendly bounce for a 49-48 Aggies lead.
Alabama took a time out and worked it for Lacey at the top of the key. He drained it with 8.3 seconds to play. On the inbounds, the ball got away from the Aggies and Releford scooped it up. An Aggie ran him down and fouled him with 4/10 second to play. Although Releford missed the front end of the one-and-one, A&M’s desperation three-quarters court “shot” was well off the mark.
Bama’s basketball team had done what the national champion Crimson Tide football team could not: beat newcomer Texas A&M.
It looked like it was going to be a heart-breaker of “Promises, promises.” Alabama opened the game with Trevor Lacey starting up where the Crimson Tide had left off in a 75-43 beatdown of Mississippi State in Starkville. In that game Lacey hit three quick three-point shots to start the second half and key the rout.
Twenty seconds into Saturday’s game, Lacey hit a trey to give Bama a 3-0 lead. But then the Tide went into the tank, offensively and defensively. Texas A&M ran off 15 straight points as the Tide missed its next nine field goal attempts and also had seven turnovers in that span.
Alabama did not reach double figures until over 16 minutes had been played, pulling to within 22-11 on the strength of a pair of Devonta Pollard free throws.
Alabama had a chance to be within single digits at halftime, but true to character the Tide did not have an effective last possession play and trailed 26-15 at intermission. Fortunately, Bama came out for the second half.
Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said, “Tough game. Releford did a good job of taking over in the second half. I’m really proud of way we played in a tough environment.”
TIDE NOTES: Alabama’s starting lineup included guards Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper, forward Andrew Steele, and center Moussa Gueye. Lacey is the only player to have started all 17 games for Alabama this year.
Trevor Releford, who had missed a game earlier in the week against Mississippi State with an ankle injury, did not start the game, but was in the game early in the first half and a key player in the second half comeback.
Alabama had a season-low 15 points in the first half Saturday. The previous low for points in a half had been 18 in the first half of a 73-54 loss at Virginia Commonwealth.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant gave credit to the crowd, easily the largest of the season at an announced 13,741.
Alabama’s win broke a three-game losing streak to the Aggies. The series includes only 11 games with Bama now having won seven.
This is the only basketball meeting of the year between Bama and first-year SEC member Texas A&M. With 14 teams in the SEC and an 18-game league schedule, each team plays only five teams twice. Bama’s five two-time conference opponents are Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and LSU.
Former Alabama Head Basketball Coach David Hobbs was on hand scouting for the Utah Jazz of the NBA.