"It’s a huge victory in a lot of ways," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "We needed a win. You want to go into the holiday break on a positive note. "The win is big because we had guys step up that needed to step up. It’s big, because we were able to do it without JaMychal, our best player. "In a lot of different ways, this is a great confidence builder for our team."
"I thought Trevor Lacey played more minutes than he has been used to, but it was good to see he and Levi (Randolph) came out with some energy early. The challenge for our team was to do it for a full 40 minutes. Our (starters) played a lot of minutes. Tony played the whole second half. We’ve got to find some spot minutes for some other guys."
"Playing against a team the caliber of Oklahoma State, I thought our guys came out and had force. We were aggressive offensively. We came out and set the tone defensively. Playing without JaMychal is not something we like to do, but I’m really proud of the way our guys responded.,"
"We probably talked a little bit too much about them not being a great shooting team," OSU coach Travis Ford said. "And when they started making their 3s, I think our guys got a little startled by it. We kind of got the deer-in-the-headlights look when they started making them. Our minds started wondering a little bit 'what's going on here?' "But when a team comes out and they don't have one of their better players playing, it can go two ways. A team either overachieves and plays way above their head. Or they really, really struggle. ... Their team really came together and said, 'hey, we've got one of our best players out. We are going to have to all step it up.' That's what they did. You have to give them all the credit."
On the impact of making shots early in the game:: "I think it was great, because our guys have worked so hard every day in practice. We spent a lot of time this week on execution offensively. We spent a lot of time just to understand the repetition of taking good shots and making shots. So it’s good to see our guys’ hard work pay off. But I think the thing that will get lost in the whole thing is, you look at the numbers they shot in the first half – from a defensive standpoint, when hold them to 29 percent in the first half, and 16 percent in the paint, I think it speaks volumes to the defensive effort that our guys gave tonight."
The Crimson Tide opened the game with a 19-4 run before the first media timeout and continued to build the lead in the first half. Oklahoma State tried to make several runs, but Alabama led 40-22 going into the break. "We're excited," UA head coach Anthony Grantsaid. "I think it was a great effort by our guys and I'm really proud of the effort we gave tonight on both ends of the court. It was a really good win."
The Crimson Tide cooled off considerably after the break, connecting on just 35.7 percent overall, including a 1-of-6 showing from three-point range, but forced nine turnovers in the frame and kept OSU at arm's length the entire half to earn the win. Oklahoma State's bench tallied 23 points in the game, but Alabama was able to convert 15 Cowboy turnovers into 14 points.
Although college basketball offers the chance for redemption late in the year, it's never too early to eye the NCAA Tournament landscape. Alabama learned the hard way last season. Alabama brought a No. 80 RPI to Selection Sunday last March. It left Wednesday with a solid No. 20 RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com. The Crimson Tide went 12-4 in the SEC last season, but got hurt by a weak nonconference resume and a horrific SEC West. Keep in mind, although the SEC eliminated divisions this season, Alabama still plays the same conference schedule -- one game against each old East Division team and two against the old West teams.
The University of Alabama basketball team came into Wednesday night's game against Oklahoma State short-handed - but also hot-handed. The Crimson Tide used sizzling shooting in the early going, leading the entire way in a comfortable 69-52 victory. The win came despite the absence of leading scorer JaMychal Green, who did not play in the game because of what UA described as a sore shoulder. Alabama spread the offensive production evenly in Green's absence. Trevor Releford led UA with 19 points, 15 of those coming in the second half. Tony Mitchell added a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Trevor Lacey - making his first career start in Green's absence - equalled his career scoring high with 12 points.
But one thing none of those players will lack is information to make the right decision. UA coach Nick Saban said the feedback he obtains from the NFL to help players make the decision includes nearly half the league. Saban endorses projected first-round draft picks to make the early jump to the NFL if they want to do so. "This is based on information I gather from probably 12-14, pretty close to half the teams in the NFL," Saban said. "This is how they evaluate them, this is where they would draft them. ... Every guy that has gone out the last couple years (early) has been a first-round draft pick, and that's the information we had. The guys who chose to stay in school were probably second or third-round draft picks based on the evaluations we got from these teams."
"Based on the information we had, D.J. made a really mature decision about his readiness and the business part of what he should do relative to his development," Saban said. "I was pleased that he came out and said it." Judging from his demeanor Tuesday, Fluker was comfortable in his own skin with the decision he had made to return for another season. But it was clear helping block for offensive chess pieces was not his lone concern. "My process is to stay in school and get my degree," Fluker said. "That's my intention right now. I told my momma and she agreed with me on that, that it was the best decision for me."
More than a few aren't comfortable with air travel, and more than a few identified star running back Trent Richardson as the most nervous flier on the Alabama roster. Linebackers and defensive ends are hardly a match for the junior from Pensacola, Fla., but flying hits Richardson squarely in the stomach. "I really just start praying before I get on, and just go from there," Richardson said. "I start sweating and it's just a big mess, for real. Just when it takes off and when they're about to land, it's crazy."
"I was scared to death every time Santa Claus came," Saban said. "And I for the life of me can't figure out why." Saban was asked to talk about his thoughts entering the Christmas weekend. He had anticipated the question, and thought about how he would answer the question last weekend at church. "Other than that (his fear of Santa Claus), Christmas has always been good," Saban said. "It's not what you get it's what you give."
This is not a repeat. Do not adjust your sets. For the third time in barely a year, Pittsburgh is set to announce a new head coach: Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, come on down. (ed.- Looks like we'll be keeping Sal Sunseri for another year)
I caught up with Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson earlier today for a Sugar Bowl preview piece (you'll have to wait for it). Robinson Robinson I also asked "Shoelace" whether or not he had submitted paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board. "I did," Robinson said, "but we'll see what happens." Asked if he's planning to return to Michigan in 2012, Robinson said, "most likely, yes." (ed. - See you in Dallas)