Musings After Tide Win In SEC Tourney

ATLANTA -- Is Alabama in? Is Georgia? How many teams will the Southeastern Conference get into the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament? So many questions, and so little time until Selection Sunday.

In the aftermath of Alabama's stunning comeback from a 14-point second half deficit to defeat Georgia 65-59 in overtime Friday afternoon, tourney talk was all the buzz in Atlanta.

Alabama coach Anthony Grant wasn't having it. Not just yet.

"Our focus is the SEC Tournament," Grant said. "We want to be here for the duration. We want to compete for a (tournament) championship. That's what we're worried about."

Should Grant and his team win two more games in the Georgia Dome, they won't have to worry about a decision by the NCAA Selection Committee, as the league tourney champ is an automatic qualifier.

Some bracketologists felt all Bama needed was one win in Atlanta. Others said two. One, Jerry Palm, said the Crimson Tide needed to win the tournament. Certainly two straight wins over Georgia, a team with an RPI in the 40s, will get the attention of the committee. (Alabama defeated the Bulldogs 65-57 in the final regular season game of the year in Tuscaloosa last Saturday.)

Alabama has won 16 of its last 20 games and is now 21-10 on the year. Working against Bama for NCAA Tournament consideration is a rotten record against a lousy non-conference schedule. In its favor, Alabama won the SEC Western Division in a runaway with a 12-4 record and has a 5-2 record against SEC Eastern Division teams.

Alabama will get a chance to further add to its resume Saturday, probably against NCAA Tourney lock Kentucky. Bama will be going for a second 2011 win over the Wildcats. Bama defeated UK by 68-66 in Tuscaloosa.

"We'll get prepared for whichever one ends up being the team that we'll play," Grant said as Kentucky was playing Ole Miss in the second Friday game, "but we're excited to have an opportunity to advance. I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow. Our coaches will scout both teams."

Meanwhile, Georgia Coach Mark Fox feels his team is in regardless of Friday's outcome. "I think we're a tournament team," he said. "I don't think we had to have this (Alabama) game. We have put together a good resume."

Fox had said after Saturday's loss in Tuscaloosa that he felt Alabama was NCAA-worthy. He saw nothing Friday to change that opinion.

"(Alabama's) pressure got to us," Fox said. "They made the plays late."

TIDE NOTES: At least two members of the 1987 Alabama team that won both the regular season and tournament SEC championships were on hand Friday. Former player and coach Mark Gottfried is doing color for SEC TV, while his good friend Jim Farmer was also spotted in the crowd.

Former Alabama and NBA star Robert Horry was this year's SEC Legend representative for the Tide. Horry was honored at half time. After leaving Tuscaloosa, Horry played 16 years in the NBA and helped lead three different teams to seven league titles. Two of Horry's Bama teammates were on hand performing their normal duties: Phillip Pearson as an assistant to Georgia coach Mark Fox, and Bryan Passink as analyst on the Crimson Tide radio broadcast.

Friday's contest was officiated by Tom Eades, Gary Maxwell, and JB Caldwell.

Alabama's record against the Bulldogs all-time is now 6-4 in the SEC Tourney and 90-47 in all games.

Lots of coaching rumors were floating around the Dome, as it's that time of the year. Maybe the two most interesting were Minnesota's Tubby Smith to Georgia Tech and Missouri's Mike Anderson to Arkansas. Time will tell.

Anthony Grant of Alabama is now 2-1 in SEC Tournament games after a 1-1 mark last year in Nashville.

In Alabama's last 20 games, only seven opponents scored over 60 points in regulation.

At the Georgia Dome, Bama is now 10-8 in SEC Tourney games.

Crowd-wise, all SEC teams had fans in the stands for the game but when comparing Georgia to Alabama, Dog fans had at best a 55-45 advantage.

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