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January 16, 2013

Releford doubtful for Miss. St. game

TUSCALOOSA | Andrew Steele's return to the University of Alabama basketball team last week did not put the Crimson Tide at full strength, but it did ease some of the pressure of a roster with only eight scholarship players available.

Well, for UA, it was fun while it lasted. The Crimson Tide is back to battling the injury bug once again, and the potential absentee for tonight's 8 p.m. game against Mississippi State is a major component of the team.

Junior point guard Trevor Releford suffered an ankle sprain at the Crimson Tide's practice Monday and was listed by UA coach Anthony Grant as "doubtful" to play against the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss., tonight.

"He will be re-evaluated again today," Grant said prior to the Crimson Tide's practice Tuesday. "But I think he is doubtful or questionable to play."

Releford is the Crimson Tide's leading scorer at 16.3 points per game and averaged 20.5 points per game in Alabama's first two Southeastern Conference games.

If he is unable to play against the Bulldogs, who are off to a surprising 2-0 start in SEC play, Alabama will use a combination of players at the point, as it did when Releford missed a game against Lamar in late November.

"If (Releford) is unable to go, Trevor Lacey will play more at the point," Grant said. "Retin (Obasohan) could step up and Levi (Randolph) could play point in some situations."

While Releford's ability to create offense with penetrating moves to the basket has been crucial for a team that struggles to score, Grant said he is more concerned about the potential impact on the defensive end of the court.

"Teams are shooting 52 percent against us in the SEC, " Grant said. "We are getting outrebounded by five a game. Those are the numbers that concern me. Offensively, we've got enough players who can score. I am more concerned about the defense."

Randolph, coming off a 12-point, six-rebound performance against Tennessee, said Alabama will be prepared if Releford cannot play.

"We work on all sorts of situations in practice," he said, a thought echoed by Grant.

"It is always better to have prepared and then not have opportunity than to have an opportunity and not be prepared," Grant said.

"We are coming off a good win (against Tennessee), and we need to take that momentum and build on it," Grant said. "That is what is important."

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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