March 21, 2011
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team defeated the New Mexico Lobos in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament at Coleman Coliseum Monday by a score of 74-67.
Sophomore forward Tony Mitchell scored a game-high 23 points while freshman guard Trevor Releford scored 20 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Charvez Davis added 14 points for Alabama (23-11).
"I think it was a really good matchup today," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "Obviously New Mexico is a very talented team. We knew coming in that we would have to do a great job on the defensive end. That's what we talked about and that's what we prepped for. Looking at the final numbers, I thought our guys did a very good on the defensive standpoint."
The Crimson Tide held New Mexico to just over 37 percent shooting from the field while Alabama connected on over 53 percent of its field goals, the second-highest percentage allowed by New Mexico this year.
Mitchell made a season-best 72.7 percent (8-of-11) of his shots while Releford tied his career-high, knocking down seven shots on 14 attempts. The Tide shot a season-high 75 percent (15-of-20) in the second half.
"Overall, I thought it was a great performance by our guys, especially in the second half," Grant said. "They did a great job of controlling the backboard. From an execution standpoint in the second half, I thought we were outstanding. There were a lot of good things tonight that helped with the win."
Holding a 30-26 advantage at intermission, the Crimson Tide used a pair of 8-2 and 12-2 runs to open the second half and led by as many as 18 points with just over five minutes to go. The Lobos cut the lead to 73-67 with a trio of three-point baskets in the final minute, but the Tide held on for the victory.
Senior guard Senario Hillman corralled his 174th career steal in the first half, tying him with Terry Conor for the all-time UA lead. Additionally, Hillman is currently the active SEC career leader in the category.
Kendall Williams led New Mexico on the night with 18 points and six rebounds.
The Tide faces Miami (Fla.) in a quarterfinal matchup Wednesday at Coleman Coliseum. Time is still to be determined.