Rally falls short

Although Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried insists there is still plenty of basketball to be played, the Crimson Tide is going to have a very difficult time extending its season into the NCAA Tournament after losing to Georgia Tuesday night. <br><br>Alabama lost for the second time this year in Coleman Coliseum as the Bulldogs took a 74-69 win over Bama.

Although disappointed with the loss, Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried was proud of his player's effort.

"I thought our guys played really hard and I'm proud of them for their effort," Gottfried said. "To be down like we were and to come back and make it a four point game when we have the ball with 25 seconds to go, it's a tremendous effort."

Alabama fell to 14-8 overall and 4-7 in Southeastern Conference play. The Tide has five conference games remaining, starting with a contest at Tennessee Saturday. Alabama then has road games at Mississippi State and LSU around home games vs. Mississippi and South Carolina. If at least a .500 record in conference games is necessary to reach the NCAA Tournament, Alabama must win at least four of those five remaining games.

Georgia broke the game open late in the first half. The game was tied at 25-25 with 3:39 to play and with 2:08 to play the Bulldogs had only a three-point lead at 30-27. But Georgia scored the final nine points of the half and took a 39-27 lead at intermission. In the second half the visitors got the lead out to as much as 19 points before Alabama whittled the margin away in the final minutes.

Trailing by 19 with 7:42 to play, Mo Williams sparked Alabama on a 26-11 run to cut the deficit to 73-69 with 27 seconds to play. Williams, who played despite a fever and the flu, scored 11 of his team high 22 points during the Tide's run.

Alabama had 10 turnovers in the first half and only one in the second half. But the one -- by guard Mo Williams trying to hurry a play in the final seconds -- killed the faint chances of a miracle comeback. Bama, down by 13 points with 2:34 to play, had pulled to within 73-69 with 27 seconds to play, but didn't get off another shot.

Georgia has been a good shooting team all year and hit just under 50 per cent against Alabama. Bama has been a poor shooting team most of the year and continued that trait, hitting just over 40 per cent against the Bulldogs. Alabama made only 22 per cent of its three-point attempts.

One reason the Tide was able to sneak back into contention late is the Bulldogs had a hard time making free throws down the stretch. Georgia hit 12 of 21 foul shots while Alabama was good on 12 of 16. One key to Georgia's win was the Bulldogs winning the rebounding war, 41-33.

Williams led the Tide in scoring with 22 points. Erwin Dudley (who set an Alabama record with his 122nd start) had 19 and Kennedy Winston 13. With his start tonight, Dudley surpassed Eddie Phillips for most starts in Alabama history with 122.

Alabama, as expected, had great trouble trying to stop Georgia stars Jarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams. Hayes had 23 points, Williams 16.

Alabama's game at Tennessee will begin at 1 p.m. EST (noon CST) Saturday and will be regionally telecast by Jefferson Pilot.

NOTE: Chris Woodfin of Alabama Media Relations contributed to this report.


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