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Rapid Reaction: Alabama 62, Colorado 61

3/29/2011

NEW YORK -- A quick take on Alabama's 62-61 win over Colorado on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden:

WHAT IT MEANS: Alabama defeats fellow No. 1 seed Colorado in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals, and advances to the championship game. The Crimson Tide (25-11) have only been to the NIT final once before -- in 2001, when they lost to Tulsa.

The Buffaloes -- the NIT champions way back in 1940 -- finish their season at 24-14. The 24 wins are the most in school history.

THE SKINNY: It was a very competitive first half, with both teams making runs. A 12-1 streak by Colorado gave the Buffaloes their largest lead, 17-13; Alabama responded with a 17-2 streak, opening up its largest lead, 30-19. But Colorado closed it to six, 36-30, at halftime. Alec Burks had 13 points for the Buffaloes at the break; JaMychal Green had 12 for the Crimson Tide. Twelve first-half turnovers by Colorado really hurt.

In the second half, Alabama quickly pushed its lead back out to 10, but then Colorado went on a tear, propelled by a trio of 3-pointers by Levi Knutson. Alabama's leading scorer, Green, went out with four fouls with 12:19 remaining, and Colorado was able to open up its biggest lead of the game, 57-52, with 6:05 left. But then Green started doing work again, and it was a nailbiter from there -- even though Green fouled out with 2.27 to go. A lay-in by freshman point guard Trevor Releford gave the Crimson Tide a 62-61 lead with 12.6 seconds remaining. Then Burks missed a pretty good look from the top of the key that would have won it for Colorado at the buzzer.

STAR WATCH: Green led Alabama in scoring with 22 points, shooting 11-for-16 from the field. Releford was the only one of his teammates in double figures, with 13.

For Colorado, Burks -- who came in averaging 20.5 points per game, 18th in the country -- nailed his average, with 20. But he shot just 6-for-14, and missed the potential game-winner.

NUMBER CRUNCH: Colorado was the better shooting team coming in, but Alabama shot 50 percent for the game (28-for-56), and the Crimson Tide's strong defense limited the Buffaloes to 40 percent shooting (20-for-50).

WHAT'S NEXT: Alabama will take on No. 4 seed Wichita State for the NIT championship on Thursday night at 7 p.m. (airing on ESPN2).

Colorado flies home to Boulder -- its season is over.