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Stanford (19-14) at Alabama (22-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 23, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coleman Coliseum (15,383) -- Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Television: ESPN. NIT Record: Stanford 13-4, Alabama 22-14. Series Record: Alabama leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The second round of the 2013 NIT continues on Saturday, as one of three remaining No. 1 seeds, the Alabama Crimson Tide, play host to one of only two No. 4 seeds left standing in the Stanford Cardinal.
The winner moves on to the quarterfinal round next week to challenge the Maryland Terrapins.
Stanford, the reigning NIT champion, survived a close call against Stephen F. Austin in the opening round of the tournament on Tuesday, 58-57, to improve to 19-14 on the season and 13-4 all-time in the event. The Cardinal have won three of their last four games coming into this tussle, the setback occurring against Arizona State in overtime in the recently-concluded Pac-12 Conference Tournament, and they are seeking their third NIT championship (1991, 2012) in this their seventh appearance in the annual get-together.
Stanford has won six straight bouts in NIT action dating back to last year's championship run.
Alabama joined Kentucky (59-57 loser to Robert Morris in the opening round) as two SEC teams that secured top billing in this history-rich tournament. The Crimson Tide defeated visiting Northeastern on Tuesday, 62-43, in what was a stifling defensive effort. Alabama's record improved to 22-12 overall, and the team is now 22-14 all-time in the NIT, as it goes in search of its first tournament title after reaching the championship game twice before (2001, 2011).
Alabama has won 11 straight home games to log a 15-3 record in Tuscaloosa this season.
The Crimson Tide have topped Stanford in both previous encounters between the two teams, with each taking place in the NCAA Tournament (1992, 2004).
Despite a horrific shooting night, Stanford's Dwight Powell scored 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Cardinal past a pesky Stephen F. Austin squad earlier in the week. Powell went just 3-of-13 from the floor, but logged his 10th double-double of the season which was certainly needed as Stanford overcame a one-point deficit at the half to keep its dream of becoming only the third team in history to repeat as NIT champions alive. Aaron Bright tacked on 11 points for the Cardinal, who converted only 40.4 percent of their total shots, despite draining 7-of-16 3-point tries. Defensively, the club allowed 43.1 percent field goal efficiency, but was solid in thwarting the Lumberjacks' long-range shooting (.273). Powell (15.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is Stanford's leading scorer on the season, and he is one of the top rebounders as well. Help usually comes from Chasson Randle (13.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 38 steals), Josh Huestis (10.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 68 blocks) and Bright (9.4 ppg, 3.4 apg).
Alabama used a tenacious defensive approach to knock off Northeastern earlier in the week, as the Huskies shot just 33.3 percent from the field, missing 11 of their 16 3-point attempts in the process. They were also guilty of 15 turnovers, and they lost the rebounding battle as well (37-27). Levi Randolph was high man for the Crimson Tide with his 13 points, while Trevor Lacey finished with 11. Alabama was a miserable 4-of-19 from beyond the arc (.211), but outscored the 'Jacks in the paint (36-14), off turnovers (22-12), out on the break (6-2) and in bench points (19-6). Alabama isn't known as an overly potent offensive team, as it averages 63.1 ppg, but where it really earns its stripes is as the defensive end where foes net only 62.3 ppg -- that figure dropping to 59.7 ppg against SEC rivals. Trevor Releford (15.2 ppg, 66 steals, .483 FG percentage, .423 3-point FG percentage) paces the program in scoring, and he is joined in double figures by Lacey (11.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg) and Rodney Cooper (10.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg).
Alabama is awfully tough to beat at home, so expect the Tide to put forth another stingy defensive effort as they knock the defending NIT champs from their perch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 68, Stanford 60
03/23 10:35:02 ET
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