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December 19, 2012

Alabama hangs on, snaps skid

LUBBOCK, Texas | The Alabama Crimson Tide got more of West Texas than it probably wanted on a Wednesday that concluded with a 66-62 win at Texas Tech.

It was an ugly night for basketball in Lubbock, as a huge dust storm that started around midday continued its onslaught on the city with whipping winds. The dust found its way into the United Spirit Arena through cracks in the ceiling and doorframes and gave the arena's lighting a certain tinge to it.

As ugly as it was outside, it was uglier on the floor. Alabama, which had lost three straight, coughed up most of what was once a 20-point lead with 12:04 to go in the game.

"I thought tonight in the first half our guys came out with great focus and great energy," Alabama coach Anthony Gray said. "We were able to build a big lead. I thought we were clicking in terms of understanding what to do. Defensively, I thought the zone really bothered them."

That 20-point lead, fueled in large part by an 8-0 start in the first two minutes of the game and three Trevor Lacey 3-pointers in the first four minutes, began evaporating early in the second half as the Red Raiders (5-3) got their bearings back.

The Crimson Tide (7-3) had a 20-point lead three times in the second half. Things began to change very quickly, though.

The Red Raiders went on 23-7 run, utilizing their signature high-pressure defense for 12 second-half turnovers, and cutting the deficit to 62-58 with 1:41 left.

"In the second half they did a very good job of turning up their energy," Grant said of Texas Tech. "We didn't respond like I would have liked us to. But I am proud of our guys for weathering the storm, so to speak, and coming out with the win."

Lacey and Trevor Releford did most of the damage for the Crimson Tide. Releford scored 17 points and had six rebounds, while Lacey led the Tide with 21 points and six rebounds of his own.

"We were doing a good job early of getting out in transition and we were moving the ball well," Lacey said. "I was moving around a couple of guys and took some open shots, made them and we got moving."

Texas Tech's Jaye Crockett led all players with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

"I felt like we'd come out and get off to a good start and we did that," Grant said. "So I told the guys after in the locker room, I think everyone in the locker room realizes that we almost let one slip away unnecessarily. Our focus through these past three losses has been we're learning what we need to do to get better as a basketball team. I think the guys have been committed to wanting to get better."

Alabama hosts Mercer at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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