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Crimson Tide Rolls Past Wildcats 77-55
JayVaughn Pinkston

Nov. 16, 2012

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Alabama (4-0 overall) rode a strong defensive effort and 25 points from Trevor Releford to a 77-55 victory over Villanova in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats fall to 3-1 on the young season.

Sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston paced Villanova with 17 points. VU connected on just .319 of its field goal attempts on the night less than 24 hours after a taxing 89-81 victory over Purdue in overtime that ended early this morning.

"I just thought Alabama was outstanding," stated VU head coach Jay Wright. "They are very disciplined, well-coached, very physical and solid. I thought they were really intelligent offensively. (Alabama) is just a very good basketball team.

"On our end, it was a lot of little things. (We had) foul trouble and weren't physical enough. It was a lot of little things for us but mostly a case of Alabama being very, very good."

The Wildcats connected on their first four field goal attempts to take an early 10-6 lead before the first official timeout. The Crimson Tide went the `Cats one better, however, sinking their first four 3-point field goal attempts of the contest, including two by Trevor Releford, to build an 18-12 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

Villanova gradually fought back through the dint of its defense and work at the free throw line. The `Cats drained their first 10 attempts at the line to grab the lead at 25-23 with 5:22 to play in the first half.

Alabama used a short spurt in the final two minutes to claim a 29-26 lead at intermission. VU connected on just 6-of-20 from the field (.300) in the first half while Alabama was 11-of-22 (.500). The Crimson Tide also owned a 19-10 advantage on the backboards.

Pinkston had nine first half points to lead Villanova while Releford's 10 points topped Alabama.

After sitting out for much of the first half after picking up a pair of personal fouls, sophomore Darrun Hilliard scored the first five points of the second half for VU to help the Wildcats briefly take a 31-29 lead. But Alabama came right back with four points of its own to regain the edge.

The Crimson Tide extended the lead behind the offense of Rodney Cooper, who contributed 12 of his team's first 39 points. The margin grew to 43-33 after a Relford triple with 13:32 to go in the period.

A Cooper 3-pointer with 11:10 left extended the `Bama lead to 48-35. The Crimson Tide controlled the backboards and pushed the margin to 52-37 with 8:16 to play in the second half.

When Releford drained another triple with just over six minutes to play the Alabama lead expanded to 57-41. It was the Crimson Tide's eighth 3-pointer of the night on its 13th attempt (.615). A short while later he added another to push the lead to 60-41 with 5:09 left on the clock.

"Alabama is a great team," noted Hilliard, who finished with nine points and four rebounds. "As you can see, they play together."

Villanova completes its experience in the 2K Sports Classic with three wins in its four outings. It now turns its attention to a Tuesday night clash with Columbia at the Pavilion.

"I think we have the potential to be a good team," stated Wright. "We are a work in progress. We have a lot of work to do. We could have lost last night's game (to Purdue) very easily. I thought the guys showed a lot of heart."