By Mike Stobbe
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Levi Randolph scored 13 points and briefly took over during a 22-0 second-half run in Alabama's 62-43 victory over Northeastern Tuesday night in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Randolph scored nine points during the spurt that helped the Crimson Tide (22-12) turn back a lengthy rally by the short-handed Huskies (20-13), who scored a season-low in points.
"The thing that was really scary about this team was the last three games they played, they were in double-digit holes and in all three games they had opportunities to win," Tide coach Anthony Grant said. "In the first half when we got up, we told our guys that this is where they're most comfortable. We're going to have to withstand a run here."
Randolph was 6-of-9 shooting after coming in averaging 7.5 points. Trevor Lacey added 11 points while Trevor Releford had nine points and five steals.
Jonathan Lee led Northeastern with 13 points, and made 3 of 6 3-pointers. The rest of the team was 2 of 10.
Tuscaloosa native Reggie Spencer had 10 points in his homecoming.
The Huskies, who won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title, were playing without leading scorer Joel Smith, who sustained an undisclosed injury in the league tournament. That contributed to a scoring total that easily topped the previous season low of 55 points against Vermont in Game 3.
The teams swapped big runs before Randolph sparked the biggest of them all.
"We talked at halftime about coming out and just playing our style of play, letting defense create our energy and letting defense create our offense," he said.
Randolph scored on a drive, then twice in a row darted through along the baseline for dunks and added a 3-pointer in a seven-minute stretch.
"He had a couple of possessions where he just ripped them," Releford said. "He made a good play and gave the team some energy."
That came after Northeastern wiped out most of a 17-point deficit with a 20-4 run that extended into the second half. Lee hit a 3-pointer before the half and had two straight baskets coming out of the locker room.
"We matched their intensity and I thought that was really the only point in the game I thought we did that," Huskies coach Bill Coen said. "When you do that, you have a chance."
They couldn't sustain it, though.
Randolph and Alabama took over and built a 23-point lead by the midpoint of the second half.
"Defensively, we really turned it up," Grant said. "We caused some problems, we were able to get out in transition. Guys were extremely aggressive from an offensive standpoint. We were then able to open it back up and win comfortably."
Alabama shot 45.5 percent (25 of 55) while holding Northeastern to 15-of-45 shooting (33 percent).
Northeastern had a tough time just getting to Tuscaloosa. Coen said weather issues in Boston forced them to fly out of Providence where they spent some three hours on the plane before getting off and having to spend the night.
The team's 4 a.m. flight arrived in Alabama 10 hours before tipoff but Coen shrugged off the obstacle.
"The weather, there's nothing you can do about it," he said.