Dramatic Ending With Win Over Georgia, 61-58
What better way to end Alabama basketball’s one hundredth season than with a 50-foot, half-court shot as the clock hits zero by Trevor Releford to boost the Tide past Georgia 61-58. It was senior day for the Crimson Tide (20-11, 12-6 SEC) in Coleman Coliseum and several former players were on hand to also celebrate the centennial season for the Tide, including legendary former head coach’s C.M. Newton and Wimp Sanderson. Others in attendance include Leon Marlaire and Jack Kubiszyn, who were part of the fabled `Rocket 8′ teams in the 1950s, and Mike Nordholz, a three-time All-SEC selection, who played for the Tide from 1966 to 1968. The list also included legendary All-America big men Wendell Hudson and Leon Douglas, standout forward Eddie Phillips and NBA veterans like McKey, Ennis Whatley, Buck Johnson and Jim Farmer.
“I guess you want drama involved in the 100th year reunion,” UA head coach Anthony Grant said. “So many people returning to the Capstone and I’m just happy we won the game. Obviously, we knew Georgia was going to continue to fight.”
Alabama’s only scholarship senior, Andrew Steele, was recognized before the game and fans at Coleman Coliseum gave Steele and his family a standing ovation. Even though Steele didn’t see any playing time in his final game he was given several gifts to thank him for his devoted service as both a player and a coach under Anthony Grant. Steele toughed out his fifth year of eligibility after returning from a string of concussions last year that were originally thought to be career ending.
Releford led the Tide offensively with 19 points including his memorable game winning three-pointer to help give Alabama there third-straight 20-win season. It is the first time since the 1990, 91 and 92 seasons that UA has had three consecutive 20-win seasons. Sophomore forward Nick Jacobs chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.
The Crimson Tide came out strong shooting the three’s and making them on their first three out of four trips down the court which has been uncharacteristic of this team for a majority of the season. The Tide went on a 13-3 run which included a perfect 5-for-5 shooting and a pair of three-point buckets by Releford and one by Lacey. Alabama was 45 percent outside the three-point arc and 6-7 from the free-throw line in the first half. The Crimson Tide built up a 14-point lead outscoring the Bulldogs 32-18 in the first half.
“I felt like in the second half they [Georgia] really picked their tempo up and really attacked us,” Grant said. “The zone caused us some problems. We struggled to find consistency against the zone. We were able to finally get a few baskets off drives and attacking the rim, but we really struggled to get anything from a consistency standpoint.”
Neither team really came out on fire in the second half but the Bulldogs seemed to have found their offense and outscored the Tide 40-29. The Georgia defense gave Alabama some problems to give the Bulldogs the chance to get back in the game. With 1:05 remaining Georgia pulled within four which was the closest they had been since the first minute of the game. Georgia tied it up with 38.8 seconds remaining on a layup and a three-pointer off a missed foul shot. Coming out of a timeout, Alabama turned over the ball with 17 seconds remaining it over to give the Bulldogs the opportunity to win the game at the end. The Alabama defense stopped the last second attempt by UGA, which would have given them their only lead of the game, to give Trevor Releford the opportunity for a game winning shot. Anthony Grant though pleased with the win and the excited with the way the game ended he still seemed disappointed, “the coach in me won’t let me get over some of the breakdowns we had.”
Trevor Releford led all scorers with 19 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. Rodney Cooper and Trevor Lacey both added 5 points, and Levi Randolph added 7 points and 3 rebounds. The Alabama guards picked up eight steals out of the 16 forced turnovers.
Players coming off the bench contributed in a big way for the Tide as redshirt freshman guard Retin Obasohan continued his streak of impressive games with 7 points in 19 minutes of play. Adding to the 23 of 61 points off the bench was Nick Jacobs who was the only other Tide player to score in double figures. He finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
The last second win against the Bulldogs not only gave the Tide its third consecutive 20 win season and ended the century regular season in dramatic fashion in front of former Alabama greats but coupled with Missouri’s loss at Tennessee, the Alabama Crimson Tide secured the No. 4 seed in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, TN. As a top-four seed, UA will receive the double-bye into the quarterfinals of the event and will play on Friday at a time to be determined. The tournament kicks off on March 13 and concludes with the SEC Championship Game on March 17. The first and quarterfinal rounds will be televised across SEC Network affiliates and the semifinals and finals will be broadcasted on ABC.
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