TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A career night in an otherwise dismal season still matters.
Alabama defeated Missouri 80-73 in a shockingly solid fashion. The Crimson Tide had their traditional second-half lapse where Missouri came back to within one point of the lead, but Alabama’s Levi Randolph and Trevor Releford led the way to the win.
Randolph had an uncharacteristic scoring night, scoring a career-high 33 points. Randolph has struggled at times this season, hesitating on wide-open looks and lacking in confidence.
"Sometimes I’m hesitant to do things, and I just have to play through it. We talk about it every day," Randolph said.
His scoring explosion against Missouri was his first double-digit scoring game in the last eight games. Randolph had five 3-point baskets and went 11-of-15 overall shooting, with two crowd-raising dunks thrown in for good measure.
The victory gave Alabama its fifth SEC win of the season, ended a two-game bout with losing, and put the team at 11-16 overall this season.
Releford was hampered for the majority of the game after taking a knee to his right thigh, but was able to return and play the remainder of the game. His continuous leadership was on display as he scored 18 points while clearly struggling with his injury. The team rallied around him, and kept feeding Randolph the ball.
“Trevor played completely on heart,” Grant said. “He was nowhere near 100 percent so he played on just guts.”
Grant said Releford will receive treatment for his leg contusion and should be fine going forward for Alabama's four remaining regular season games.
This game against Missouri was Alabama's return home from a disappointing loss at Texas A&M on Feb. 19, and was also the first home game without forward Nick Jacobs, who took a leave of absence from the team before the A&M game.
Losing a starting big man who averages eight points a game and provides a presence in the post adds to the maladies of this season for Alabama. But Randolph, on his stellar night, echoed the words of his coach and said the team will refocus after this win and take this confidence on to the next game.
"We’ve had a rocky road and we just have to try to keep getting better each game," Randolph said. "When adversity hits, sometimes we kind of take a step back, but we have to keep pushing."