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January 19, 2013TUSCALOOSA | The slow start as Texas A&M sprinted to an early lead was familiar to Alabama fans from November. So was the spirited comeback.
The only difference for Alabama this time around? The happy ending.
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey made that possible, hitting a clutch jump shot with 8.4 seconds remaining to give Alabama a one-point lead, then disrupting the Aggie inbounds pass to stymie any final opportunity and give the Crimson Tide a 50-49 victory at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday.
"Coach drew up a play for me to come off a ball screen and get the ball to Nick (Jacobs) but they switched the screen and that gave me the opportunity to take the big (man) off the dribble," Lacey said. "I didn't come out thinking I was going to take the shot no matter what, but that is what developed."
"We wanted to get the ball in Lacey's hands, and th way they were defending us, we wanted to attack the middle of the floor," UA coach Anthony Grant said. "Lace just took advantage of what was there."
"On the inbounds, I don't think they knew I was there," Lacey said. "The guy turned and just dribbled it off my leg."
Alabama had erased a deficit of as many as 14 points in what was a woeful first half, setting the stage for a dramatic final three minutes that saw two ties and four lead changes.
Andrew Steele had scored a driving layup and a free throw with 42 seconds remaining, putting UA ahead 48-47. Texas A&M (12-5, 2-2 SEC) responded with a floater by Fabyon Harris, retaking a 49-48 lead with 18 seconds to play, setting the stage for Lacey's dramatics.
"I thought it was a great character win," Grant said.
"We knew only being down 11, we could step up our defense and give us some easy baskets," Steele said.
"To me, it wasn't an effort issue," Grant said. "We just needed to play better, to guard better. But our guys stayed the course."
Trevor Releford, who sprained an ankle in practice on Monday and missed one game this week, did not start but came off the bench and scored 15 points, all in the second half.
Elston Turner scored 13 points to pace Texas A&M.
Alabama (11-6, 3-1 SEC) will host Kentucky on Tuesday night.
TideSports.com Recruiting: Weekend insider report
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.