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November 11, 2012TUSCALOOSA | Trevor Lacey, the buzzer-beating hero of the University of Alabama basketball team's first win of the season, got down to business earlier in the Crimson Tide's second game.
Lacey, a sophomore guard, poured in a career-high 23 points to power Alabama (2-0) to an 80-49 win over West Alabama at Coleman Coliseum in a second-round game of the 2012 2K Classic. The Crimson Tide advances to New York where it will face Oregon State at Madison Square Garden in a Thursday semifinal in the tournament.
Lacey's 23 points came in just 22 minutes of floor time, and included a 5-for-5 shooting performance from beyond the 3-point arc.
"My first two shots were coming off ball screens and the rest was just my teammates finding me and kicking it back from the inside," Lacey said. "I feel healthier this year and I am able to make shots that I wasn't able to make, especially on the move."
West Alabama, playing their season opener, managed to stay with the Crimson Tide in the early going, trailing just 15-14 with 8:45 to go in the first half. But Alabama's superior size and athleticism wore the Tigers down in the second half. At one point, Alabama outscored UWA 44-19 in the half.
"I knew going into the game that their strengths played rot into our weaknesses," UWA coach Mike Newell said. "In November and December, even a good team is going to struggle against fullcourt pressure. You just don't have enough time to get everything in. I thought we weathered the storm in the first half but once it got going like it did in the second half, well, there is a big difference in Division I kids and Division II.
"You've got to play these kind of games for the paychecks, but it is good for your kids," Newell said. "But it is usually an eye-opener for them.
"Alabama is also starting to shoot the ball better. Last year, I couldn't even watch them but once they starting shooting along with their defense, they are going to be a factor."
Jack Hill, a transfer from St. Peter's, led UWA with a double-double, 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Rodney Cooper had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Crimson Tide while point guard Trevor Releford came off the bench to score 14 points.
Asked if Releford would return to the starting lineup at some point, Grant noted that the junior played 22 minutes and added that "if you want to make (starting) an issue, you can, but it's not an issue for me."
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.