Alabama, in winning decisively 74-59, looks like a team headed for its first NCAA berth since 2006. Georgia, in being defeated convincingly at home, has a lot of work to do to even be an NIT team. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Georgia (9-6, 0-1 SEC) with 22 points, including a four-point play in the first half. But while freshman forward Nemanja Djurisic chipped in 10 points, once again the Bulldogs were dominated inside. "It’s tough. They’re a big physical team, and it’s tough to fight with them for 40 minutes," Djurisic said. "That was I think the biggest reason they won. They’re better on the glass. ... We just need to be much more tougher and a better rebounding team."
Alabama got a career night from freshman Trevor Lacey with 19 points, all but two of those in the first half, in defeating Georgia 74-59 Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. By halftime, Lacey had made 5 of 6 from the field, including 3 of 3 3-pointers, and 4 of 4 free throws. "I had a good pregame and just felt comfortable shooting the ball," said Lacey, "and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball when I was open. I wasn't doing anything that I hadn't been doing all season, but my shots were just falling."
Caldwell-Pope led a second-half rally by Georgia, which closed to within four on Donte Williams’ stuff tip of his own miss, making it 52-48 Alabama with 9:20 to play. But Alabama went on a 12-2 run over the next 4 ½ minutes, capped by Mitchell’s three-point play with 5:00 to go, to lead 64-50. "We wanted to get to the position late in the game where we were not in foul trouble and we had a chance to win," said Georgia coach Mark Fox. "And we did, but they made the plays and we didn’t."
Alabama (12-3, 1-1) — which had been shooting just 27 percent from behind the 3-point line this season — made 3-pointer after 3-pointer against Georgia’s zone, led by freshman Trevor Lacy, who went a perfect 3-for-3 on 3-point field goals in the first half. "They haven’t been a great 3-point shooting team this year and we felt like that was the way we had to play," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. "They made some shots in the first half. They made some NBA [3-pointers]. You got to give a kid credit for making a deep basket. If they are going to shoot a shot, that’s probably the one we want them to shoot."
"We made some freshman mistakes, and our inexperience showed in the moment of truth," said Djurisic, who scored 10 points while playing 29 minutes filling in for injured starter Marcus Thornton. "We got them down to four, but they’re a great team and they beat us on the boards so much it was hard to overcome. Said Fox: "At that point forward their experience took over. They made the plays in the clutch, and you have to give them credit for that."
Trevor Lacey scored 19 points as the Alabama Crimson Tide easily dismissed the Georgia Bulldogs, 74-59, in SEC action at Stegeman Coliseum. Also scoring in double figures for the Tide (12-3, 1-0 SEC) were Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford with 17 and 12 points, respectively, as they won their fourth in a row. JaMychal Green accounted for 10 rebounds, eight points and five assists, but he was also charged with nine turnovers on the night.
"You've always got to be pleased any time you can get a road win in this league," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "I'm very proud of our guys. We overcame the turnovers and things that we weren't doing well in the game but we found a way to get stops and win the game so I'm very, very proud of that."
But Smart himself says Cochran is "the second-most important guy, next to Coach Saban, in my mind, because he spends so much time with the players." "They have so much confidence in him," Smart said. "He has so much energy. He's developed a lot of our young talent, a lot of our strength. A lot of that strength program is how strong you believe you are, and our kids believe they're strong from working out with Scott." Perhaps no Alabama player is stronger than senior nose guard Josh Chapman. "He's almost our backbone," Chapman said of Cochran
The Tide began the day with a press conference that featured defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, and players Dont'a Hightower, Josh Chapman, Mark Barron, DeQuan Menzie and Upshaw. After practice in the afternoon, head coach Nick Sabanand members of the team visited the West Jefferson Medical Center. "We just wanted to come out and give these kids our support," Alabama senior tight end Brad Smelleysaid. "A lot of people have given us a ton of support and look up to this team so we felt like our visit could be a blessing to these kids."
The edge goes to Alabama, but both staffs are outstanding. Five assistants helped Alabama win the 2009 national championship (six counting wide receivers/recruiting coordinator Mike Groh). Some fans wonder if McElwain's attention has been divided between this game and Colorado State, but wouldn't he want to go out in a blaze of glory?
Much is made about Miles' affinity to gamble with the game on the line. Trick plays in unique situations have been his staple throughout his career, and he has a sterling record when going for it on fourth down in the clutch. What many didn't find out about the Mad Hatter until this season was how good he is at rallying the troops during trying times. Miles deserves every accolade he's received this offseason for coaching the Tigers to one of the most impressive college football seasons in recent memory, even as the team dealt with turmoil from several suspensions throughout the season.
"I think your iron will be hot as long as you win and play well, whether it’s with coach (Nick) Saban or anybody else," said Smart, who just turned 36. "The ultimate deal is: Are you winning and are you successful? The guys who’ve done that have had opportunities. "The only thing that matters with my kids are them graduating and playing well, and I try to do my dangedest to get them to play well. How do you play well? You practice well. You prepare well. You motivate them every day. You give them some change-ups, and that’s what we try to do. If that makes your iron hot, then I’m all for it. "Again, all I’m worried about is being successful where I’m at. If you stay where you’re at and don’t get caught up in all that other stuff, good things will happen to you.
So are they actually going to score a touchdown this time or what? I am confident that, yes, LSU will score an offensive touchdown — give the No. 1 team in the nation eight quarters and an overtime, and lightning has to strike at least once — although it may need some help from the defense or special teams to get there. That's nothing new: The Tiger offense has played the field position game and taken advantage of the opportunities created by the other phases this year as well as any team in recent memory. It's what they do, and it's perfectly suited to the old-school battles of attrition both of these teams are built for. But if it's going to take more than six points in regulation to win this one, the offense's first priority is still to hold on to the ball like grim death to avoid putting the defense on the spot. If they can manage that with a big play or two mixed in, we know the rest can take care of itself.