Alabama (2-0) vs. Oregon State (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,786) -- New York, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Alabama 2-0, Oregon State 2-0. Away Record: Alabama 0-0, Oregon State 0-0. Neutral Record: Alabama 0-0, Oregon State 0-0. Conference Record: Alabama 0-0, Oregon State 0-0. Series Record: Alabama leads 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: A pair of 2-0 squads will face off as part of the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on Thursday when the Alabama Crimson Tide tangle with the Oregon State Beavers.
The Crimson Tide have won their first two games during the Tuscaloosa Regional of the 2K Sports Classic. but in wildly different ways. In the season opener Alabama survived a scare from South Dakota State (70-67) with a buzzer beating 3-pointer from star guard Trevor Lacey. Alabama's second game against West Alabama was a lot less heart-stopping with the Crimson Tide rolling to an 80-49 victory.
In the Corvallis Regional, Oregon State had similar results and enters Madison Square Garden on Thursday with an identical 2-0 record. First the Beavers ran past Niagara (102-83) and followed that performance up on Sunday with a nine- point win (71-62) over New Mexico State. The Beavers' fast start is a good sign for a team coming off its first 20-win season since 1990.
The second game of the day at Madison Square Garden between Villanova and Purdue will determine the matchups for the next round.
In the only meeting between these squads Alabama came out on top (59-49) in a defensive battle during the Pearl Harbor Classic in 1998.
With strong defense and effective shooting from beyond the arc, Alabama was easily able to overcome West Alabama in its second game of the season. The Crimson Tide outscored West Alabama 27-12 from three-point range and held the Tigers to less than 10 field goals in both halves.
Lacey's big shot in the first game of the season shouldn't be that surprising considering he is the clear focal point of the squad. Lacey is averaging almost 20 points per game (19.0) through the first two games, while setting up his teammates (3.5 pg). Backcourt depth beyond Lacey has been a key for Alabama. Both Rodney Cooper (16.5 ppg) and Trevor Releford (16.0 ppg) have gotten off to fast starts as well. Releford has done so as a reserve. Levi Randolph hasn't scored at a high rate (6.0 ppg) but is the team's leading rebounder (5.5 rpg).
Despite shooting just 9-of-30 from the floor in the second half and being outrebounded by a 46-33 margin against New Mexico State, the Beavers were able to hold on to win thanks in large part to impressive shooting in the first half (16-of-29). Oregon State also outscored the Aggies 19-5 on points on turnovers and blocked seven shots.
The Beavers will be able to counter Alabama's Lacey with their own explosive offensive guard in Ahmad Starks. The junior has filled up the stat sheet this season and is averaging 25.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game through the first two games. He poured in 33 points against New Mexico State and continues to stroke it from three-point range with alarming frequency (8- of-19). In the post, Eric Moreland has been a force on both ends of the court. He has blocked eight shots already this season and finished with a double- double in the first game (14 points, 13 rebounds). However against New Mexico State it was Joe Burton that carried the offense from the inside with 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Angus Brandt showed versatility in the second game with eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
The duel between Lacey and Starks is one that really makes this a much more intriguing game than could be expected in November. What this contest will come down to is the supporting cast and thus far the Beavers have been stronger in that regard.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 83, Alabama 78
11/15 10:35:42 ET