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March 19, 2013

Alabama runs away from Northeastern

TUSCALOOSA | It was a scene all too familiar for fans, and in a sense, it was a microcosm of 2012-13 Alabama basketball.

Build a lead. Go several minutes without scoring. Hold on for the win.
But when the Crimson Tide's once 17-point lead evaporated to one early in the second half, there was no clenching of teeth, only an exclamation point.

Sparked by a 22-0 spurt that covered eight minutes and 19 seconds, Alabama downed Northeastern 62-43 Tuesday night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Alabama (22-12) hosts Stanford at 11 a.m. Saturday in the second round.

Sophomore guard Levi Randolph scored nine of his game-high 13 points during the run that kept the Crimson Tide dancing into March.

He began the surge with an 11-foot jumper to give UA a three-point cushion, then converted back-to-back dunks in a 19-second span that sent the fans in attendance to their feet.

"I was in the corner and Trevor (Releford) found me when he drove and I was able to rip through and I had a good seal from Moussa (Gueye) on the backside and I was able to go up and finish it," Randolph said.

"We talked about coming out of halftime and playing our style of play and letting our defense create our energy and to let defense create offense. We were just trying to create energy with our defense and play our style of play and doing the things that coach asked us to do."

The lead was as large as 24-7, but the Huskies closed on a 16-4 run to pull within five points at the half. They continued the comeback in the second half to close the deficit to a single point before Alabama made its move.

"We were up 17 and then all of a sudden for them to go on the run they went on, I felt like it was a lot of what we weren't doing," UA coach Anthony Grant said. "I'll give our guys credit. I challenged them at the half, and they came out and responded in the second half with the focus and intensity that we needed to play with."

Junior point guard Releford continued his fondness for the NIT, beginning the game on a roll with seven of the team's first nine points. He finished with nine points in 33 minutes of action. He also recorded five rebounds, two assists and five steals.

Retin Obasohan continued to show why Grant thought so much of his potential coming into the season with nine points, including putting the cap on with a thundering, high-flying alley-oop from Trevor Lacey. Lacey finished with 11 points.

Former Hillcrest High School standout Reggie Spencer led Northeastern with six points at the half on 3 of 7 shooting, including a baseline dunk. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds.

Reach Aaron Suttles at Aaron@TideSports.com or at 205-722-0229.





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