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Friday, November 16, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Alabama 77, Villanova 55

By Kieran Darcy

What it means: Alabama may be a bigger threat in the SEC this season than many thought.

The Crimson Tide are 4-0 after defeating Villanova 77-55 in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Villanova drops to 3-1. The Wildcats can still take some positives out of this trip to the Big Apple after beating Purdue in overtime in the semifinals. But getting blown out in the title game hurts.

The skinny: After Villanova jumped out to a four-point lead early in the first half, 12-8, Alabama scored 10 straight to go up 18-12. The Wildcats retook the lead late in the half, but the Crimson Tide had a 29-26 advantage heading into the locker room.

Villanova scored the first five points of the second half to briefly re-take the lead, but then Alabama took control for good. Another 10-0 spurt made it 39-31, and the Crimson Tide were off and running. They led by as many as 24, and won going away.

Star watch: Alabama’s guards continue to impress. Sophomore Trevor Lacey, the team’s leading scorer entering the game (19.3 ppg), got in early foul trouble and scored just seven points. But junior Trevor Releford and sophomore Rodney Cooper picked up the slack, finishing with 25 and 17, respectively. Both can shoot it from deep and penetrate as well, making them very difficult to deal with.

For Villanova, sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston (a Brooklyn, N.Y., native) had a team-high 17 points. Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who played so well in the team’s first three games of the season, had an off night. He scored 11, but shot just 1-for-8 from 3-point range.

Number crunch: Alabama shot 56.8 percent from the field, 60 percent from beyond the arc -- and just 58.1 percent from the foul line (18-for-31)! Does that make sense? No, but it can be a funny game sometimes.

Villanova, on the other hand, had a very bad night shooting the ball (15-for-47, 31.9 percent). Credit Alabama’s defense for that, at least in part.

What’s next: Villanova faces Ivy League foe Columbia at home on Tuesday.

Alabama will host Charleston Southern on the Friday after Thanksgiving.