Tide escapes in New York, 62-61

NEW YORK – Freshman point guard Trevor Releford's layup with 13 seconds remaining propelled the Alabama men's basketball team to a thrilling 62-61 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes in the semifinal round of the National Invitation Tournament Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Crimson Tide advances to the NIT Championship game where it will take on the Wichita State Shockers 6 p.m. CDT Thursday on ESPN2 at Madison Square Garden. Alabama, making its sixth appearance in the NIT Final Four, will look for its first NIT Championship Thursday.

"Give Colorado credit," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "They're a great basketball team. We knew in the second half they would have a lot of fight in them. I thought in the first half we set the tone and then in the second half they did. They went on a couple of runs that we had to answer and thankfully we had guys step up, persevere and make plays to win the game."

Alabama junior forward JaMychal Green led all scorers with 22 points before fouling out late in the second half, while Releford added 13 points, seven assists and six steals. Sophomore forward Tony Mitchell and senior forward Chris Hines combined for 16 points and 11 rebounds for Alabama (25-11).

The Tide scored the four-straight points to take a 40-30 advantage less than a minute into the second half. Alabama maintained the lead for the next eight-plus minutes of the half until the Buffaloes were able to pull in front 48-47 at the 10:42 mark. Colorado eventually extended its lead to 57-52, its largest of the half, before an 8-0 Alabama run gave the Tide a 60-57 lead at the 3:08 juncture.

The Buffaloes scored four straight to retake the lead, 61-60, at the 1:53 mark before Releford was able to make the game-winning shot with less than 14 seconds on the clock. Colorado had one last attempt, but Alec Burks' jump shot with two seconds remaining bounced off the rim to seal the victory for the Tide.

Alabama forced 11 turnovers and held the Buffaloes to just 36% (9-of-25) shooting in taking a 36-30 halftime lead. Green led the Tide with 12 first half points while Releford added nine points and four steals.

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