Alabama downed Miami in Coleman Coliseum to earn a trip to New York.
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's basketball team (24-11, 12-4 SEC) defeated the Miami Hurricanes (21-15, 6-10 ACC), 79-64, in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal Wednesday night in front of 8,612 fans at Coleman Coliseum. The victory advances the Crimson Tide to its sixth all-time NIT Final Four appearance.
"It is an understatement to say that this was a great win," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "I thought from start-to-finish the style of play was outstanding. The atmosphere today was outstanding."
The Tide was led by freshman guard Trevor Releford's career-high 22 points while senior forward Chris Hines paced the Tide on the boards with nine rebounds.
After each team traded buckets to begin the game, Alabama forced turnovers on Miami's next four possessions, scoring on the other side each time to take an early 11-2 lead with 17:10 left in the first half. The Tide held at least a seven-point advantage for the remainder of the first half, taking a 36-26 advantage into intermission.
The Hurricanes cut into the Tide's 10-point halftime lead coming out of the half with an 8-0 run to pull within two at the 17:38 mark.
Alabama found a spark at the 13:20 mark when Miami forward DeQuan Jones had two shots blocked in the paint and senior Charvez Davis drove 90-feet after the rebound to draw a foul on the other end. Davis made both free throws and Alabama went on a 14-4 run over the next five minutes to reclaim a double-digit advantage at 56-45.
The Tide stretched its lead out to as much as 18 in the final three minutes and held a 15-point advantage as the clock expired at 79-64.
"I think our guys came out with great pride and excitement for an opportunity to continue our play, to continue our season, and to continue to have an opportunity to compete for a championship," Grant said. "I'm really proud of the effort everyone gave today."
Senior guard Senario Hillman fouled out of the game at the 2:03 mark in the second half. Hillman, the only four-year player on the 2011 squad, scored 17 points in his final Coleman Coliseum performance, only one shy of his season high.
Alabama will face Colorado in the NIT semifinal Tuesday, March 29 at 8 p.m. CDT at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.