Alabama beats Northeastern in 1st round of tournament

Charlie Potter

The Alabama men’s basketball team defeated Northeastern 62-43 Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.

The No. 1 seed Crimson Tide (21-12, 12-6 SEC) controlled the game for the most part, despite a narrow 28-23 lead at halftime.

The Huskies came out of the locker room on a 4-0 run to trim Alabama’s lead to one point, but that was as close as it got. From there, the Tide went on a 22-0 run and never looked back.

Sophomore guard Levi Randolph said the energy he and his teammates played with after Northeastern trimmed their lead was what allowed the Tide take back control of the second half.

“We were just trying to create energy with our defense and trying to play our style of playing and do the things that coach asked us to do,” Randolph said.

Junior guard Trevor Releford said the energy that sparked the Tide’s 22-0 run originated from Randolph, who led Alabama with 13 points.

“We had players on our team that stepped up, like Levi,” Releford said. “He had a couple of possessions where he just ripped through and just wouldn’t let the defensive player stop him and made good plays. He gave the team some energy.”

Head coach Anthony Grant said Randolph’s contribution was not just on the offensive end of the floor. His efforts on defense helped shut down the Huskies, forcing them to shoot 33 percent (15-45) from the field.

“Levi did a very good job from a defensive standpoint,” Grant said. “They were a team that was very dangerous shooting the three. That was the focus. But it was great to see him be aggressive like he was from an offensive standpoint.”

Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey scored 11 points, and freshman guard Retin Obasohan tacked on nine. Moussa Gueye, Nick Jacobs and Devonta Pollard each recorded six rebounds.

Alabama shot 46 percent (25-55) from the floor and outscored Northeastern in the paint 36-14. The Tide also out-rebounded the Huskies 37-27.

Releford said the team’s focus is to get back to Madison Square Garden and the NIT Championship game.

“Our goal before this game was to make a run in this tournament and win it,” Releford said. “This game, we had to win and just move on to the next one.”

Randolph said the Tide needs to approach each game like it did all season, following Grant’s one-game-at-a-time mantra.

“We just want to take it one day at a time, and each day just try to get better and try to get ready for the next game.” Randolph said.

Alabama will host a second-round game later in the week.