Yes, the Alabama Crimson Tide couldn’t pull the upset against the 11th-ranked Wichita State Shockers on Tuesday night, falling 72-67 to the undefeated Shockers. The loss left the Crimson Tide 5-5 on the season and with a reputation as a team that plays good teams tough, but doesn’t finish the job.
Very little of that reputation, however, can be blamed on senior guard Trevor Releford. A 6-footer from Kansas City, Mo., Releford was almost all of Alabama’s offense in the second half of Tuesday night’s game. In the final 20 minutes, Releford poured in 15 points and added four assists after he had seven points and two assists in the first half. Between his points and assists, Releford was responsible in some way for 24 of Alabama’s 35 points in the second half.
The Crimson Tide were down just one point at halftime, 33-32. While Releford was lighting it up in the second half, he was getting some help from substitute guard Rodney Cooper, who finished with 14 points. Cooper had nine points in the second half. But, to say Cooper helped is a bit misleading, since Releford assisted on three of Cooper’s four baskets in the second half, a total of seven points.
Cooper was the only other Alabama player to finish in double figures in scoring. Releford was 7-for-15 from the field against a very good defensive team. The other four starters finished a combined 9-for-25 from the field and produced just 25 points — only three more than Releford by himself.
It’s been established that Alabama needs more than just Releford to produce to have any chance of contending in the SEC this season. But that doesn’t mean Releford won’t be a contender for individual conference honors. While much of the preseason hype has gone to the freshmen class for the Kentucky Wildcats, and the always tough Florida Gators (winners over the 15th-ranked Memphis Tigers Tuesday), Releford has now scored at least 20 points in three games this season and is averaging 17 points per game.
Releford’s six assists Tuesday were a season-high. Even if his teammates don’t step up enough for Alabama to be a factor in the SEC, Releford will be in the conversation for All-SEC if he continues playing at the level he showed in the second half Tuesday night.