Anthony Grant has been looking for consistency in his team.
Instead, they've given him a rollercoaster season with highs (wins over Villanova, Kentucky, Vanderbilt) and lows (losses to Dayton, Mercer, Tulane). But one aspect of the game he can count on is Trevor Releford. The junior guard scored 21 points in Alabama's 61-43 win over Auburn at Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night. It was a nice way to follow the career-high 36 points he had Saturday at LSU.
Releford, who recently broke the program record for steals, recorded two more against the Tigers. He now has 180 for his career at Alabama.
Releford started the game hot and kept the fire going. He scored five of the Crimson Tide's first seven points, had eight by halftime and finished with 21. He was the difference maker in what was an overall poor showing of basketball.
"Trevor did a great job tonight," said head coach Anthony Grant. "He was locked in, vocal and energetic, and I thought it was contagious to our team."
When asked how he'd sum up Releford's dominance on the court, redshirt freshman guard Retin Obasohan, who had 10 points against Auburn, said, "toughness."
"Yeah, he can score a lot of points and he's a great facilitator, but he's one of the greatest competitors I've seen in a long time," Obasohan said. "He's tenacious. If he wants something he'll go get it, and there are very few people who can stop him."
Releford explained that better preparation is the reason why his shots have been falling more consistently lately.
"I have been preparing better lately and coming into the game a lot more focused and when I am that focused, I have a lot of confidence in my shot," he said.
In the first matchup between these teams, the Tigers (9-19, 3-12 SEC) beat the Tide (19-9, 11-3) 49-37. Alabama had a 23-13 halftime lead, but was outscored 36-14 in the second half. Though the halftime score was similar, the Tide was up 23-16 at the break, Alabama outscored Auburn in the second, 38-27.
"That was a tough loss for us at their place," Grant said. "Their energy and effort was far superior to ours. Our guys remembered that."
Both teams shot poorly, Alabama going 22-of-56 (39.3 percent) from the field and Auburn going 15-of-50 (30 percent). The two combined to go 7-of-39 from 3-point range.
"We've been going through struggles from an offensive standpoint, but we've been able to win games in spite of that," Grant said. "We're a better team than we were 20 days ago."
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