Tide loses lead, awaits NCAA fate
the Alabama basketball team’s fate rests in the hands of the NCAA Tournament Committee. Or, that of
“We’ll find out tomorrow if we get a chance to play. Nothings guaranteed. The season could be over
today, “said Tide coach Anthony Grant. “That’s why they call them invitational tournaments. I don’t deal
in (making cases to the NCAA Committee). They’ve got a tough enough job already.
“We fell short today. Florida has been the best team in the year all year, and they made the plays
they needed to make today. Their 13-0 run probably tells the story of the game. Their defense really
turned it up, and allowed them to get out into transition and make some baskets.”
Sophomore guard Trevor Lacey said, “Our goal this weekend was to come win the SEC (tourney)
championship. We’ll just have to wait and find out (Sunday) if we’ve done enough.”
Added Gators coach Billy Donovan, “My opinion is based on when we play them and how I feel. I
think absolutely (Alabama) deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama’s here (in the semis)
because they’re a good team. Our league is very, very good, today. Alabama played us twice this year as
well as anybody has.”
Kenny Boynton scored all 16 of his points in the second half to propel the Gators to victory. Alabama
junior guard Trevor Releford couldn’t help but notice. “Boynton stepped up to the plate. He made some
big plays for his team. He just gave them a spark,” Releford noted.
Bama was led by Releford with 12, while Lacey and Nick Jacobs had 11 each. Lacey and Moussa
Gueye had five rebounds each.
It took Bama 3:20 to get on the scoreboard, when Releford drove for a tying lay-in. It was four
minutes until the Tide scored again, but subs Nick Jacobs and Retin Obasohan provided an offensive
spark that had the Gators leading by only a point with 10:25 left in the half.
Bama fought gamely throughout the first stanza, and one highlight was Lacey hitting a contested
NBA-length trey as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 16. At intermission, the Crimson Tide led 28-
25 thanks to a late 7-2 run. There were five ties and seven lead changes in the first 20 minutes. Twice in
the half, Bama (21-12) was called for 35-second violations, once early due to good defense, and later in
the half for non-awareness of the clock.
The Tide seemed on a mission to start the second half, extending its lead to as many as ten points on
two Releford free throws with under 16 minutes left.
Then, as has been the case much of this season, things began to fall apart. Moments earlier, Rodney
Cooper picked up his fourth foul with 17:19 left. Then, with 14:56 left, Bama picked up its seventh team
foul, putting Florida in the bonus the rest of the way. The Gators (26-6) reeled off 11 straight points to
go up 38-37 and force a Grant time out with 12:59 to go. The run reached 15 before a Lacey trey with
10:20 left made it 42-40, Florida. The Gators’ Mike Rosario, however, responded with an old-style 3-
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