Rapid Reaction: Alabama 62, Colorado 61

March, 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.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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