Nov. 27, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama took advantage of 12 second half Lamar University turnovers to pull away from the Cardinals for a 75-47 non-conference basketball victory Tuesday evening at Coleman Coliseum.
The Cardinals (1-6) led for much of the first half, and trailed just 36-27 at the half, before Alabama went on a 14-4 run over the first nine minutes of the second half to build a 50-31 lead. Rodney Cooper, who led the Crimson Tide with 17 points and eight boards off the bench, scored a layup to put UA up by 21with 9:19 to play and the Cards would draw no closer the rest of the way.
After turning the ball over just eight times in the first half, Lamar committed 12 in the second half and Alabama finished the game with a 20-8 advantage in points off turnovers. Alabama had eight in the first half as the points off turnovers were tied at six apiece through the first 20 minutes.
One difference in the second half is that Lamar played the final 17:23 without head coach Pat Knight as he was ejected from the game with Lamar trailing 38-29. The Cardinals scored only two points over the ensuing 6:58 following his ejection.
"I didn't earn the first one (technical foul), but I earned the second," said Knight about his ejection. "The physical play, calls need to be called and it's that simple. It's tough being the small school coming to a bigger school; you don't always get the calls."
For the first time this season, Lamar got off to a strong start. After Alabama (6-0) pulled ahead 12-8, Lamar responded with a 9-2 run to grab a 17-14 lead with 11:00 to play. Cooper would make a jumper with 8:35 to play in the first half to give Alabama a 20-19 lead which it would not give away again.
Senior forward Stan Brown knocked down a jumper with 47 seconds to play in the first half to pull Lamar within nine after Alabama had taken its first double-digit lead of the game just 18 seconds earlier on a Levi Randolph jump shot.
Three of Lamar's eight first turnovers came on shot clock violations which Alabama was not able to convert into points. Despite constant full-court pressure by the Tide, Lamar's young backcourt was able to take care of the ball in the first half.
"Our guards did a really good job of breaking their press by going up the sideline," said Knight about what helped Lamar stay close in the first half. "I thought we did well changing up the defenses to not let them get in a rhythm and I thought we did a great job attacking the basket.
"Talking to my assistants, they picked up the pressure even more so in the second half and we just didn't handle it well. We kind of backed down a little bit because they picked up the pressure and we didn't pick up our intensity and that's my fault. With the head coach not in the game, it's really tough. I was proud of them for the first 25 minutes. I thought we played really well."
Alabama, which played without leading scorer Trevor Releford, finished with a 40-33 rebound advantage in the contest, including 18 off the offensive glass. The Tide was able to outscore Lamar 19-8 in second chance points.
After shooting 41.9 percent from the floor in the first half, Lamar was just 8-of-25 in the second half and finished the game at 37.5 percent. Alabama went 15-of-32 (46.9 percent) in each half and also enjoyed an 18-7 advantage over Lamar in free throw attempts.
Brown played a solid game for the Cardinals, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds. He and fellow forward Nikko Acosta also helped hold the larger Alabama frontcourt players in check on offense. UA did finish the game with 12 blocked shots, however.
Redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell added 10 points off the Lamar bench with Hondo Webb chipping in with six points and three rebounds.
Guard Retin Obasohan finished with 13 points for Alabama and Randolph added 10 points and five rebounds.
Lamar will continue road action next Tuesday when the Cardinals take on Purdue at 5:30 p.m.