Tide ends regular season with important win over Georgia

Jason Galloway

After getting outscored by 27 points in the second half at Florida on Tuesday, the Alabama basketball team got the quality win it needed with a 65-57 victory over Georgia in Coleman Coliseum Saturday.

The Crimson Tide improved to 20-10 (12-4 SEC) and earned its fourth win in six tries against the SEC East to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes from being a long shot heading into the conference tournament next weekend.

“It’s out of our hands,” head coach Anthony Grant said of his team’s tournament chances. “Our goals at the beginning of the year were to have a chance to win the [SEC] West, to have a chance to be overall champs, to have a chance to go to the SEC tournament and compete for the championship there. If you can do those things, then you’ve got a pretty good team.

“Whether somebody else feels like our overall body of work warrants [an NCAA Tournament bid], I can’t control that.”

Alabama clinched the SEC West title weeks ago, and if Vanderbilt defeats Florida in Nashville, Tenn., tonight, the Tide will be co-SEC regular-season champions with the Gators.

“We’re going to watch the game,” senior guard Charvez Davis said. “We’re going to be locked into it, and we’re just going to see what the outcome is, and whatever happens we’ll just have to deal with it.”

Davis is a big reason why that game matters to Alabama. The long-distance shooter had been on a cold streak leading up to Saturday’s game, but he went 5-of-10 from behind the arc against the Bulldogs and scored 17 points on Senior Day.

“I have to give credit to my teammates and my coaches,” Davis said. “[My coaches] showed me a video of my missed shots and my made shots, and it was a big difference. I just didn’t follow through.”

Georgia got off to a quick 7-0 start in the game, but a slew of big shots from JaMychal Green got the Tide on top before the half. Green scored 12 of the Tide’s first 23 points, and Alabama took a 27-21 lead into the break.

The game was won with Alabama’s shooting and pressure defense in the second half. Davis had 12 of his 17 in the second half, and 12 of Alabama’s 20 forced turnovers were in the final 20 minutes.

Green finished the game as the Tide’s leading scorer with 19, and he also added nine rebounds.

“It helps a lot [when Davis is hitting 3-pointers],” Green said. “They have to start concentrating on both of us. We have a lot of weapons on the team, and it opens up everything.”

Senior Senario Hillman got the start over Tony Mitchell on Senior Day, but Mitchell added 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

The SEC Tournament will begin Thursday in Atlanta, but Alabama will have a bye and not have to play until Friday. The Tide will find out if it earned an NCAA tournament berth on March 13.

“I think we’re worthy,” Green said, “but it’s not in our hands, so all we can do is patiently wait and just take one game at a time.”