NEW YORK -- Alabama football fans are still smarting from Saturday's loss to Texas A&M. But their basketball team is off to a 3-0 start.
The Crimson Tide defeated Oregon State on Thursday at Madison Square Garden, 65-62, in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic. The Beavers fall to 2-1 on the season. It's a good early-season win for Alabama, on a big stage.
The skinny: The first half was very tight -- neither team led by more than five points, and there were seven ties and 11 lead changes. Alabama took a 35-32 lead into the locker room, scoring the final four points of the half.
Alabama opened the second half on a 12-2 run, taking a 47-34 lead. The Crimson Tide led by as many as 15, and appeared in control of the game -- until the Beavers came roaring back late. A 17-3 run by Oregon State was capped off by two free throws by junior forward Devon Collier that tied the game with 43 seconds remaining.
The biggest shot of the game? That belonged to Alabama sophomore guard Rodney Cooper, who drained a 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left to put the Crimson Tide up 65-62. Oregon State had two more cracks to re-tie it. With 5.2 seconds left, junior guard Ahmad Starks turned the ball over after receiving an inbounds pass along the sideline. Then, after a missed Alabama free throw and a timeout, with 2.2 seconds left, junior guard Roberto Nelson got the ball, but his half-court heave was off the mark at the buzzer.
Star watch: Alabama's got some talented guards, and they were the key to this victory. Sophomore Trevor Lacey, averaging 19 points per game coming in, scored a team-high 20, and made 4 of his 7 3-point attempts. Junior Trevor Releford and Cooper added 12 points apiece.
Collier, a local product, had a game-high 21 points off the bench for Oregon State. Starks, who scored 51 points in the Beavers' first two games of the season, had just three points against the Crimson Tide.
Number crunch: One thing stands out on the stat sheet above all -- turnovers. Oregon State had 19 of 'em; Alabama had just seven. That's the difference in the game.
What's next: Alabama will play the winner of the second semifinal between Villanova or Purdue in the championship game, Friday at 7:30 p.m. Oregon State will play the loser of that game at 5 p.m.