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November 9, 2012TUSCALOOSA | In his long reign as the state of Alabama's "Mr. Basketball" at Butler High School, Trevor Lacey was known for many talents, but pre-eminent among them was winning.
On Friday night, the University of Alabama sophomore showed he has not lost the touch, hitting a 3-point shot as time expired to lift the Crimson Tide to a 70-67 win over a tough South Dakota State team in the first round of the 2K Classic at Coleman Coliseum.
The Jackrabbits had tied the game at 67-67 on a 15-footer by Tony Fiegen with 30.5 seconds to play, giving Alabama a chance at the final shot. After a timeout with 16 seconds remaining, UA designed a play for Rodney Cooper, but when he was guarded closely, Lacey took the ball and hit from beyond the arc on the right side as time expired.
"The play we drew up, Coop was the first option and Lacey was the second, but he made a great play," UA coach Anthony Grant said.
"I was the screener," Lacey said. "It was a ball screen and the guard jumped a little too early. I feel like I don't look for a shot myself, but I can create."
Grant added: "I told the guys this was a character win. You look at the way our football team handled adversity in Baton Rouge, and it is a great inspiration to our guys to witness that every day.
"This was a great game tonight. We got in a hole in the first half and what brought us back was the defensive effort."
Lacey and Trevor Releford sparked a second-half comeback for the Crimson Tide, which had trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half. Alabama was down 29-16 with 4:14 to go before halftime but closed the half on an 11-0 run sparked by pressure defense.
Alabama led by as many as seven points, 60-53, with five minutes remaining, but, powered by All-America candidate Nate Wolters, the Jackrabbits came back. Wolters finished the game with 30 points.
"Quite frankly, I was disappointed in the way we played," South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. "We had some guys play very tentatively and there was no reason for it. We have enough experienced players that coming in and playing an Alabama shouldn't faze them, but it did. It's frustrating because we have players that have been through this. If we just play the way we normally play, this would have been a different outcome. But give them credit, too, because their pressure bothered us and caused some of our tentativeness."
Releford's 18 points led UA, while Rodney Cooper added 17 and Lacey scored 15.
Alabama (1-0) will be back in action at 4 p.m. Sunday, hosting West Alabama.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.