TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Trevor Releford needed less than two minutes to nearly match his scoring total from Alabama’s opener.
The Crimson Tide guard hit three 3-pointers and a layup in a 1-minute, 40-second stretch of the first half and scored 29 points in a 76-64 victory over Texas Tech on Thursday night in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Foul trouble helped limit Releford to 22 minutes and 12 points in the opening loss to Oklahoma for the Tide (1-1). He rebounded to match his career high with five 3-pointers before halftime.
“Trevor really stepped up and put the team on his back with some big shots that kind of got the crowd into it and gave our team a level of excitement,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “Then we were able to get stops, get out in transition, make some plays, have our defense create offense to build the lead.”
Releford made 5 of 7 3-pointers and was 11-of-14 shooting for Alabama, which opened up a 12-point halftime lead. Texas Tech (2-1) couldn’t pull closer than eight points in the second half.
Retin Obasohan added 15 points, five steals and four assists for Alabama and Levi Randolph scored 10.
Jordan Tolbert and Robert Turner led Texas Tech with 14 points apiece. Jaye Crockett added 12 points while he and Tolbert each grabbed seven rebounds.
First-year Red Raiders coach Tubby Smith had stints in the Southeastern Conference with Georgia and Kentucky, which he led to the 1998 national title.
His team couldn’t overcome Releford or Alabama’s hot shooting. The Tide went 28 of 41 from the floor (54.9 percent) and never trailed by more than two points.
“I knew that Trevor Releford would bounce back,” Smith said. “He’s a very talented player, very tough, hard-nosed kid. We had no answer to him. He got off to a great start shooting the ball and never really let up. When that happens to you, it can be a long night.”
Releford scored 11 consecutive points early in the game. He then drilled a contested 3 from the top of the key and hit two free throws in the final 90 seconds of the opening half.
Releford even scored on a layup after bouncing his inbounds pass from behind the basket off a Texas Tech player in the second half.
“I think any player that does that, you’ve got to read the defense,” he said. “I saw both of them not paying attention to the ball. I just took a chance and it played in my favor.”
Grant said it’s nothing new for Releford.
“He does it once or twice a year,” the coach said. “I think he’s about 4 for 5.”
Alabama made 6 of 9 3-pointers in the first half and didn’t make one in five second-half attempts.
Texas Tech cut the margin to eight points in the opening minute after halftime and then cut the score to 48-39 on a 3-pointer by Jamal Williams with 13:07 left. Then Randolph hit a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions to start an 8-0 run.
He and Obasohan both were perfect on five trips to the free throw line, where Alabama was 14 of 17. Texas Tech had only eight attempts from the line, making four, after Alabama sent the Sooners to the line 25 times.
“That tells me we weren’t really strong with the ball in forcing Alabama to foul us,” Smith said.
The Tide closed the first half on a 20-8 run to take a 40-28 lead, capping it with Rodney Cooper’s fast-break dunk with 25 seconds left.
Before that, it was mostly Releford’s show. Once that first shot went in, he got hot.
“It definitely boosted my confidence and just made me want to step up and take another one,” Releford said.
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