Tide Is Going To The Garden

Alabama's basketball team is going to Madison Square Garden in New York for the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament. That's the good news. The bad news is that Duke will be waiting on the Crimson Tide.

Alabama had several answers for the Georgia State zone defense and rolled to a 75-58 win over the Panthers in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night to win the South Region of the tournament. Bama hit from outside, got fast break baskets from its defense, worked inside for baskets and fouls. Early in the game Georgia State had a 10-4 advantage in points in the paint. At the end the Crimson Tide's advantage was 36-30

Alabama's two wins on its home court gives Bama a 3-1 record. Georgia State fell to 2-2. Panthers Coach Ron Hunter said, "We'll probably finish last in the SEC because our two losses are to SEC teams on their home courts. But we don't play in the SEC. We play in the Sun Belt."

Alabama will take on the Duke Blue Devils in the semifinals of the tournament in New York on Wednesday, Nov. 27. The finals will be Nov. 29.

Alabama was led in scoring by Trevor Releford with 19 points, but the MVP was probably Retin Obasohan, who had 18 points. Obasohan also had four steals, three blocked shots, and two assists with four turnovers. Both Releford and Obasohan played very aggressively. Releford had six turnovers.

Levi Randolph added 10 points for the Tide. He and Releford had six rebounds and freshman Shannon Hale had seven, freshman Jimmy Taylor five as Bama had a 40-24 advantage on the boards.

Alabama made 25-52 field goals for 48.1 per cent and held the Panthers to 22-55 for 40 per cent. The Tide was 6-19 (31.6 per cent) on three-point tries, Georgia State 5-17 for 29.4 per cent. Alabama made 19-25 on free throws, 76 per cent, and the Panthers 9-14 for 64.3 per cent.

Alabama had the advantage in points of turnovers (22-15), second chance points (11-5), and fast break points (12-8).

Georgia State was led by Rashaad Richardson with 16 points and Manny Atkins with 14.

Alabama built a 13-point lead late in the first half, but Georgia State cut that lead to eight points, 38-30, at intermission. Bama was very efficient at taking advantage of turnovers by the Panthers. Georgia State had eight first half turnovers and Alabama scored 17 points off them.

Obasohan keyed a 15-2 run as the Tide broke from a 19-19 tie to lead at 34-21. It wasn't just the eight points Obasohan scored in that period. He also had a hustle steal that he turned into a conventional three-point play with a contested layup and free throw; another steal for a layup; and an impressive blocked shot, one of two for the 6-1 sophomore.

Meanwhile, Releford was leading all scorers with 12 points.

Early in the second half it looked like the game was being set up for a free throw shooting contest at the end. Alabama picked up three team fouls on Georgia State's first possession, a fourth on the Panthers' second possession, and a fifth on an offensive foul on the Tide's second possession of the second half. But Georgia State had been called for three fouls.

But the Panthers started slow from the field and Bama was able to open up a 17-point lead at 49-32 less than five minutes into the second half. That lead would reach 23 midway through the second period as Bama coasted to the victory.

TIDE NOTES: For the first time this year, Alabama Coach Anthony Grant did not have a new starter in the lineup. Bama started the same five as had opened the NIT Season Tip-Off South Regional Monday night against Stillman. The Tide had freshman Jimmie Taylor at center, Rodney Cooper at forward, and guards Trevor Releford, Retin Obasohan, and Levi Randolph.

Duke defeated East Carolina Tuesday night to advance to New York.

In the preliminary game, McNeese State defeated Stillman, 81-72.

McNeese State, Georgia State, and Stillman will advance to regional consolation sites.

Alabama's next home game will be Dec. 4 against North Florida.

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