Tide Beats Georgia; Now Waiting Game
On Senior Day, Alabama's Charvez Davis, one of three scholarshipped seniors for the Crimson Tide, made five three-point shots and had two steals that led to Bama baskets as Alabama defeated Georgia, 65-57.
Alabama, which captured the SEC Western Division title several games back, finished regular season play with a 20-10 record, including 16-0 in Coleman Coliseum, and a 12-4 SEC mark. (Florida has a 12-3 conference record going into its evening game at Vanderbilt.)
Alabama's next appearance will be in the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide is winner of the Western Division of the conference and as the number one West seed Bama's first game will be at 1 p.m. EST (noon central time) Friday against the winner of a Thursday game between the fifth seed from the West against the fourth seed from the East.
Speculation now shifts to whether Alabama will make the NCAA Tournament. Bama's resume includes a horrible pre-conference schedule in which the Tide did not perform well. But in SEC play, Bama finished 4-2 against the Eastern Division. So-called experts have suggested Tennessee (a team Bama beat in Knoxville), Kentucky, and Georgia (teams the Tide defeated in Tuscaloosa) will make the tournament with poorer SEC records than Alabama.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant was non-committal on where he thinks his team stands for the NCAA Tournament, but said he thinks the 4-2 record against the East may be the best argument for a Bama invitation.
Of course, the SEC Tournament champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia Coach Mark Fox thinks that Alabama is going to be in the NCAA field. "He (Grant) won the West," Fox said. "We're in the SEC. I think he does have a tournament team."
Davis, who runs hot and cold on his outside shooting, was hot against the Bulldogs, making 5-10 from behind the arc. He finished with 17 points and added four assists and two steals with no turnovers.
JaMychal Green had 19 points and 9 rebounds and Tony Mitchell 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Trey Thompkins, who had been questionable for the game, had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia. Travis Leslie also had 15 points and Dustin Ware 11.
Alabama had some uncomfortable moments in the second half as Georgia pulled to within a point, the last time at 32-31 with just over five minutes gone. But Andrew Steele (who would make some clutch free throws in the final half minute of the game) made a foul shot. Moments later, Bama forced a turnover and got the ball to Davis who made a three-pointer for a 36-31 advantage.
Mitchell probably put the nail in the coffin when he drove the baseline, made the field goal, was fouled and made the free throw, and put Bama up by 41-33, an eight-point lead.
Alabama would eventually build as much as an 11-point lead against the Bulldogs, including leading by 11 with under three minutes to play.
As usual, Alabama -- one of the nation's best defensive teams -- had a good defensive outing. Bama held Georgia to 41.3 per cent shooting from the field (19-46) and the Tide had eight steals (to only two for Georgia), and the Bulldogs were guilty of 16 turnovers, Alabama just eight. Bama did not shoot well, just 22-56 for 390.3 per cent, but had 10 more field goal opportunities.
Alabama had a 26-22 margin of scoring in the paint and a 20-10 advantage in scoring off turnovers.
Alabama had taken a 27-21 halftime lead despite a terrible start. The Crimson Tide was down 5-0 before taking a shot and fell behind 7-0 as the Bulldogs hit their first three shots of the game. Although Bama would trail by eight points (13-5 with 14:26 to play), the Tide erased it with an eight-point run that tied the game at 13-13 with 10:41 left in the first half.
Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green got Alabama back to even with Green getting an old-fashioned three-point play, then Mitchell making a free throw and getting two putbacks (one of his own miss). Georgia helped with three turnovers during the run.
Alabama got the first half lead for good when Green had to beat the shot clock at 6:58. He drove for the short jumper and was fouled for a three-point play that made it 19-17. Green then made consecutive baskets, including a slam on a fast break, and the Tide had the lead at 23-17. Green had 12 first half points.
Bama had the opportunity for the last shot of the first half when Andrew Steele made a nice block of a Georgia shot with 23 seconds to play, but the Tide was unable to work a good shot, missing three times in the final seconds.
TIDE NOTES: It was Senior Day at Alabama, and, as expected, Bama's three scholarshipped seniors all started. Senario Hillman started in place of Tony Mitchell on the wing. Regular starters Charvez Davis at wing and Chris Hines in the post also started.
Prior to the game, all seniors including walk-on Justin Luquire and the senior managers were honored in an on-the-court ceremony.
There had been some question as to whether Georgia star Trey Thompkins would start. He had suffered a toe injury earlier in the week. The 6-10, 245-pound junior who leads Georgia in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (7.5), did start and scored the first basket of the game. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
It was another Coleman Coliseum sellout of 15,383, Bama's fifth straight to end the season and sixth of the year. Following the game, Grant addressed the crowd and thanked them for their part in the Tide's success this year.
Going into the game, Alabama was one of only 17 teams in the nation to be undefeated at home.
Alabama's 20-10 record marks the first time since 2006-07 to reach the 20-win plateau. It is the 25th time in history for Alabama basketball to have 20 victories.
Alabama has won 15 of its last 19 games.
Alabama had lost two consecutive games (road losses at Ole Miss and Florida) before rebounding against Georgia.
The Tide's 12-4 SEC record is Bama's best since getting a dozen conference wins in 2004-05.
Alabama now leads the all-time series with Georgia by 89-47.
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