November 28, 2012 9:40:44 AM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama men's basketball team might have gotten an unintentional spark from a visiting coach named Knight.
Rodney Cooper had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead short-handed Alabama to a 75-47 victory against Lamar University on Tuesday night, when the Crimson Tide followed one eruption from the bench with another on the court.
The Tide (6-0) held its second straight opponent to fewer than 50 points and took control with a 25-7 run starting early in the second half after Lamar coach Pat Knight -- son of former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight -- was ejected for getting two technicals protesting a non-call.
The Cardinals (1-6) were trailing 38-29 at the time with 16 minutes, 56 seconds to play.
The outburst seemed to spark Alabama. The Tide proceeded to go on the big run in a game that had been fairly competitive much of the way.
"I'm not sure if that really sparked us as a team but in our minds we were just trying to do little things and get back into our style of basketball," Alabama's Levi Randolph said.
The spurt included a Randolph-to-Cooper alley-oop.
Knight said it was physical play that got him riled and that "being the small school, we don't get the calls." Assistant coaches held him back from storming toward the officials.
"I didn't earn the first one," Knight said of the technical fouls. "I made sure I earned the second one. I got my money's worth."
The Tide played without ailing leading scorer Trevor Releford, who has a stomach virus, and guard Andrew Steele, who has a groin injury. Coach Anthony Grant said Releford sitting out was a gametime decision.
Cooper had six offensive rebounds to help overcome a 0 for 7 performance from 3-point range. He had sat out the last game against Charleston Southern with shoulder tendinitis.
"I'm just trying to get my legs up under me," Cooper said, adding his shoulder didn't bother him.
Releford's sub, Retin Obasohan, added 13 points for Alabama while Randolph and walk-on Dakota Slaughter each had 10 points for the Tide.
"We just have to go out and play to our identity no matter who's on the floor," Randolph said.
Stan Brown led Lamar with 14 points and nine rebounds while Rhon Mitchell scored 10.
"It's really on me for that last 15 minutes but I was proud of them for the first 25," Knight said. "Just talking to my assistants, I think they amped up their intensity and we just kind of backed off."
He killed time in the locker room talking to his wife, a friend and his father on the phone.
"(Bob Knight) said don't worry about it," he said. "That's part of the game."
Lamar was held to 21-of-56 shooting (37.5 percent) and made just eight field goals in the second half.
Alabama's defense also contributed 12 blocked shots -- three each by freshman Devonta Pollard and Carl Engstrom -- and nine steals.
Obasohan sparked Alabama early. He had scored seven points in the first five games before scoring eight in the first 14 minutes.
It was the teams' first meeting since Lamar won in a first-round game in the 1983 NCAA tournament.
The Tide has been flirting with a national ranking, leading the teams among "others receiving votes."