Tide Wins Battle, But Loses NCAA War

The Alabama men's basketball team won the battle, but lost the war. The Crimson Tide defense throttled the high-scoring Creighton offense, but Bama didn't deliver quite enough scoring in second round game that opened the NCAA Midwest Region in Greensboro, N.C., Friday. The Creighton Blue Jays took a 58-57 decision.

Alabama ended its season at 21-12 with its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006.

The ninth seed Crimson Tide had a last-second chance against eighth seed Creighton, but Trevor Releford's desperation three-point shot was just short.

"In my mind this doesn't diminish what this team has been able to accomplish over the course of the season," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. "I am extremely proud of our entire team and it is has been an honor and a privilege to coach them. For our only senior, JaMychal Green, I would have liked him to experience sustained success in this tournament, but unfortunately, for us, our season ends here today."

This was Bama's 19th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Crimson Tide is now 18-19 in national tournament games.

No one can say that Alabama didn't have its chances. The Tide had a seven-p[oint lead at halftime, 30-23, and led by as many as 11-points in the second half. However, the Blue Jays went on an 12-1 run to tie the game at 37-37. Bama lost the lead with 5:40 to play and fell behind by as many as seven points in the final moments. But three missed free throws by Creighton gave Bama a last opportunity and kept the outcome in doubt until the final buzzer.

Releford led the Crimson Tide in scoring with 14 points and also had four assists. Green closed out his Alabama career with 12 points and a team-high six rebounds and three blocked shots. Freshman Trevor Lacey chipped in 13 points and five rebounds.

Defensively, the Tide held Creighton forward Doug McDermott, the nation's third-leading scorer coming into the game, to just 16 points. Grant Gibbs was the only other Jay in double figures scoring with 10. Creighton did make 9-21 three-point shots, but Bama made 7-17.

The Blue Jays hit their ninth three-pointer of the game with 2:44 remaining to give them a seven-point lead, the largest of the game for Creighton. Alabama cut the lead to four when Andrew Steele hit a rare three-point shot. A Nick Jacobs tip-in cut it to two points. Moments later McDermott made one of two free throws after he rebounded a missed Creighton free throw and was fouled. With 19 seconds to play Steele was good on a layup to cut the lead to 58-57.

Two more missed free throws by Creighton with eight seconds to play enabled Bama to have its final shot.

It was a game of runs with both teams able to build leads, only to see those advantages slip away.

The game had been advertised as Creighton's offense, seventh in the nation at 80 points per game, against the Alabama defense, ninth in the nation allowing just 58.1 points per game. Bama had held 11 opponents to a low scoring total this season, and just missed against the Blue Jays. Creighton's low for the year is 57 points.

Alabama was outscored in the paint by Creighton, 26-18, making the Jays one of the few teams to win that battle against Bama this year. Creighton also won the battle of points after turnovers, 14-4, and in another rarity this year had the advantage in bench points, Jays subs outscoring Bama back-ups by 18-6.

The game was tied four times and their were five lead changes.

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