Now Alabama Waits: NCAA Or NIT

ATLANTA -- Anthony Grant and C.M. Newton are friends. In fact, Grant considers Newton one of his mentors. That said, Grant is hoping NOT to get a call from Newton Sunday. If he does, it means the former Alabama coach is offering the current Tide boss a spot in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).



Translation: if that call comes, Alabama did not make the NCAA tourney for a fourth straight year.

Certainly, the 72-58 resounding defeat to Kentucky in the SEC semifinals Sunday was not the impression Alabama wanted to make on the NCAA Selection Committee. No way, no how.

After the game, Bama Coach Anthony Grant continues his theme of the week regarding the NCAA's.

"I'm more focused on our team," the Crimson Tide coach said. "I think we've had a very good year, considering where we started and where we finished up. Whatever happens, will happen, but that cant diminish what these guys accomplished during the season, in my mind.

"We're just looking forward to whatever lies ahead for us. Nothing can take away the benefits of what we accomplished during the season."

Kentucky Coach John Calipari thinks Bama is worthy of an NCAA bid.

"I think they should be in," said Calipari. "What happens is, people talk about strength of the league. They've beaten good people. I think the SEC should get six teams in. Georgia beat us, and so did Alabama.

"We'd have smacked anybody today, the way we shot the ball. I don't think that should affect the way the committee sees Alabama. I trust the committee will give Alabama the look they deserve."

The CBS NCAA Tourney Selection Show commences at 5 p.m. CST Sunday. Bama will watch (and hope) as a team in Coleman Coliseum.

And Grant will hope if Newton DOES call, it will be to congratulate him for making the Big Dance.

TIDE NOTES: Bama probably needs a Wildcat win Sunday to help out both its strength of schedule and RPI, based on the Tide's home win over the Cats Jan. 18.That may be tough if guard Duron Lamb is not available. Lamb was injured with just over a minute left.

No Alabama players were asked a question on the post-game interview podium. That may be a first.

Despite his post-game scuffle Friday with Ole Miss player Reginald Buckner, Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins was allowed to play by the SEC. Shocking, I know. Liggins scored 14 points to go with nine boards.

It was good for both teams that each had a first round bye, as both Grant and Calipari play only seven men, essentially. Eighth men Ben Eblen of Bama and Jon Hood of Kentucky both play sparingly. In fact, looking for an offensive spark during a second straight dismal first half, Grant used freshman Charles Hankerson as eighth man.

The "Rupp Arena South" and "Catlanta" deal was certainly in play at the Georgia Dome Saturday, as there seemed to be about five blue shirts for every crimson one.

Memo to self: Next time a Georgia Dome parking pass is offered, turn it down. Imagine the joy of an extra 45 minutes in downtown traffic due to the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Had I taken MARTA, as I did Friday, this would not have been an issue. The extra four bucks would have been worth escaping the torment. Lesson learned.

The game was officiated by Anthony Jordan, Gary Maxwell and Mike Nance.

Former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer was in attendance for the tourney, as he usually is.

Former Alabama star Robert Horry made his second straight appearance at the Dome when the SEC honored all 12 of its 2011 Legends at the half. Horry was seen sporting a crimson Bama polo shirt. Perhaps the standout member of that dozen was Arkansas‘s first seven-footer, George Kok (1945-49), now in a wheelchair.

The daily trivia question on the big screen revealed that, since 1981, all 12 SEC schools have captured either a division, regular season, or tourney title.

Next year's SEC hoops tourney will be at the New Orleans Arena, home to the NBA's Hornets, rather than the Super Dome.

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