For readers in Decatur, the complete game story didn’t make it to the web. I don’t want you to feel left out because the whole story didn’t find its way online. So here is the whole thing:
BIRMINGHAM — Already struggling with losses in three of four games, the suddenly unranked Alabama basketball team took another body blow before Wednesday’s game.
Leading scorer JaMychal Green was a scratch with a shoulder injury.
No problem. The Crimson Tide just took an unfamiliar route to the 69-52 blowout win over Oklahoma State in front of near-sellout crowd of 13,808 in the BJCC.
Alabama just pounded Oklahoma State with perimeter shooting that’d been their Achilles’ heel recently. Alabama made five of its first six from 3-point range as the guard-heavy lineup sprinted past the tall, lumbering Cowboys.
“I think it’s a huge victory in a lot of ways,” coach Anthony Grant said. “We needed a win. You want to go into the holiday break on a positive note and it’s big because we had guys step up that needed to step up. I think it’s big because we did it without JaMychal, our best player.”
Green was injured for a few days, Grant said, but the decision to hold him out of the game was made after arriving in Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon.
Point guard Trevor Releford led the way with 19 points in what was a balanced effort for Alabama playing its first game outside
the national rankings after rising as high as No. 12.
The much-needed win started with a bang. Alabama never trailed and sprinted to a 21-4 lead with transition baskets and a few of those perimeter jumpers.
Alabama (9-3) made just four 3s in the last two games combined. It had six at halftime Wednesday and tied a season high with seven overall.
Freshman Trevor Lacey added 12 points in his first start of the season. The top prize in the highly-regarded recruiting class handled the ball while making two big 3-pointers in the opening moments.
“I noticed I was in the starting lineup in practice, so I was just preparing for it,” Lacey said. “And JaMychal came out and talked to me and was telling me ‘Don’t over do it and let the game come to you and be aggressive.’”
Lacey was one of three freshmen starters along with Levi Randolph and Nick Jacobs. The heralded newcomers accounted for 20 of the 40 first-half points.
Jacobs was the tallest starter at 6-8 without Green in the lineup. It the second time he missed a game with an injury after sitting out the Nov. 23 win over Alabama A&M.
Oklahoma State, now losers in its last three, had trouble finding any offensive rhythm with Alabama’s offense swarming the ball. The Cowboys (6-5) missed all but one of their first 10 shots and finished 32.7 percent from the field.
Second-half runs of 9-0 and 6-0 cut the Tide lead down as low as nine with 5:45 left before Alabama pulled away.
Trailing 40-22 at halftime, Oklahoma State’s lone bright spot was Le’Bryan Nash’s 11 consecutive points. He finished with 17 points as the only Oklahoma State player to reach double figures. The Cowboys had the 19-point deficit down to 12 when the Alabama offense began to sputter late in the half.
Then the 3-point shot returned when freshman Rodney Cooper beat the shot clock with a rainbow with 2 minutes left in the half.
The Tide has a bit of a Christmas break before returning to Coleman Coliseum for a Dec. 29 visit from Jacksonville.