It wasn’t so dramatic this time, at least not for Trevor Lacey himself, but the end result was consistent: another gut-check, three-point win for Alabama.
Lacey didn’t hit a buzzer beater this time, as he did in his team’s season opening win over South Dakota State last Friday, but the scintillating sophomore delivered again, propelling the Crimson Tide to the finals of the Champs 2K Classic and perhaps justifying the hype that has accompanied him since the beginning of his freshman season. Lacey scored 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the floor, helping Bama narrowly preserve a lead that got as big as 15 midway through the second half.
Then he saved the heroics for an unsung teammate.
After Oregon State rallied to even up the score—during an innocent spurt that consisted mostly of free throws and layups—fellow sophomore guard Rodney Cooper got his turn at a game-winning 3-point attempt. He didn’t disappoint.
Cooper connected on a trey from in front of the Crimson Tide bench to break a 62-62 tie with 14 seconds remaining. One sloppy sequence later—a Beaver turnover, Cooper clanked free throw and desperation half-court heave that missed wide—his shot had held up.
For Oregon State, little went right aside from homecoming junior forward Devon Collier, the Bronx native who turned in 21 points on 50-percent shooting from the floor in a reduced role (a starter last season, Collier has come off the bench so far this year). Playing in front of dozens of friends and family at Madison Square Garden, Collier shook off a rocky first half and helped spark the Beavers’ second half comeback. The Beavers just didn’t have enough ammunition to complete the charge.
Ahmad Starks had an off-night, despite what had appeared to be a favorable matchup for him coming in, while Beavers big man Joe Burton battled foul trouble all night. Oregon State, as a team, couldn’t capitalize on a +14 rebounding advantage or the shooting edge the team had on the floor. Head coach Craig Robinson can thank 20 team turnovers—five from Collier—for that.
The Beavers will be no pushover in the Pac-12, as they showed tonight against a solid, albeit unspectacular Crimson Tide squad. They can make an even better case with a win over a Purdue team chafed after its controversial overtime loss against Villanova in the nightcap of the 2K Sports Classic semifinals.