1. Alabama was looking for an identity this season. The Tide came to New York and discovered it may just be a late-game, big-shot squad. Trevor Lacey hit a 3-pointer to beat South Dakota State in the opener in Tuscaloosa. Then, when Lacey got doubled Thursday night against Oregon State, he found Rodney Cooper on the far side, who buried a 3-pointer to beat the Beavers. The SEC is hardly stacked after Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. A top five spot is wide open. Alabama has a shot to stick. "We like our odds in that situation,'' said Lacey. "We showed signs of immaturity and getting complacent.'' Alabama forced 20 Oregon State turnovers. But the Tide can only go so far with their defense. Making big shots can be a difference maker. "We knew we didn't get a lot of hype in the preseason,'' said Lacey. "But we're showing that Alabama can be a contender in the SEC.''
2. Ahmad Starks looked like a first-team all-Pac-12 player in scoring 33 points in a win over New Mexico State. But he disappeared offensively against the Tide with only three points in making 1-of-5 3s (he actually drained a 3-pointer that could have tied the game but it was after the Beavers called a timeout). Starks doesn't need to score 33 points for the Beavers to win. But he can't score three. OSU coach Craig Robinson needs to be able to count on Starks in some way to be more consistent. Of course, 20 turnovers is a recipe for defeat.
3. SMU beat rival TCU Thursday night to move to 2-0. The Mustangs haven't dramatically increased personnel. Yet, they are off to a solid start (also beat LMU). It's hard to ignore the coaching of Larry Brown. If the Mustangs continue to maximize the talent in Dallas then it will turn out to be a brilliant move to hire Brown, even if it's only for two years. The Mustangs must have momentum heading into the Big East. It's only two games but the Mustangs have relevance with Brown coaching and if he keeps winning, even at a modest pace, then they will be a story worth following this season -- something that is unheard of in the Metroplex.