National Invitation Tournament Quarterfinals Recap - (1)  Alabama 79, (2) Miami 64

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Perhaps if the NCAA Selection Committee could have seen this performance, things might have been different.

Using superior athletic ability, a pressing defensive game plan, and home court prowess unmatched by anyone else in the country, the Alabama Crimson Tide dominated the Miami Hurricanes in the quarterfinal of the National Invitational Tournament from Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Wednesday evening. With the sting of an NCAA Tournament snub still fresh in the minds of head coach Anthony Grant’s troops, the Tide washed over the Hurricanes in every facet of the game, completing an amazing home streak which saw the SEC West Champions go 19-0. Despite this home court prowess, and a number of solid victories, Alabama was left home from the Big Dance without a date. The NIT has become its way of rectification.

Freshman Trevor Releford was terrific, setting the tone for the Crimson Tide on the both ends of the court, scoring a game-high 22 points and garnering 3 steals. The defensive pressure was too much for Miami to handle. Alabama finished the contest with 13 steals as a team. Miami’s 18 turnovers led to a number of easy Alabama baskets. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the opening minutes and pushed their lead to as many as 14 before the Hurricanes closed the gap at halftime. Miami used a second half push to cut the deficit to one point seven minutes into the last stanza. The Hurricanes would get no closer. Releford and teammate JaMychal Green, who finished with four steals of his own, put the clamps on Miami defensively as the Tide took control of the game. By the time the run had subsided, Alabama was in the driver’s seat once again.

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Miami struggled from the field all evening, shooting just 40 percent from the field, including a vapid 2-of-15 from distance. Head coach Frank Haith’s club was led by Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson, who scored 19 points and 14 points respectively. The Hurricanes had made quite a run in the Tournament before running upon an Alabama squad on a mission. Optimism should permeate in South Beach as every player who scored for the Hurricanes on Wednesday night will return next season.

Two weeks ago the Crimson Tide were shocked and dismayed by being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Tonight, with a new found desire to prove the skeptics wrong, Alabama is on its way to NIT Semifinals and a date at Madison Square Garden. Perhaps the only people surprised at this turn of events are the selection committee themselves.

By Zach Bloxham
DFN Sports Staff Writer




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