Thursday, March 31, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Wichita St. 66, Alabama 57
By Kieran Darcy
NEW YORK -- A quick take on Wichita State's 66-57 win over Alabama on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden:
WHAT IT MEANS: Wichita State, a No. 4 seed, wins the National Invitation Tournament by knocking off its second No. 1 seed of the week, Alabama. The Shockers win their first NIT championship, in their first title game appearance. Wichita State finishes its season at 29-8 -- the 29 wins are a school record.
Alabama has now lost both times it's played in the NIT championship game (the other being against Tulsa in 2001). The Crimson Tide tie New York University and Notre Dame with the most NIT semifinal appearances without winning a championship (six). Alabama finishes its season at 25-12.
THE SKINNY: The first half was a tight, back-and-forth affair -- a little more high-scoring than you would expect, with two of the top 30 defensive teams in the country (both give up less than 62 points per game). Alabama led by as many as five, Wichita State by as many as eight. The Shockers led the Crimson Tide 37-34 at the break. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the first half. Wichita State had a 16-10 advantage on the boards, but also committed 10 turnovers.
Alabama came back and took a one-point lead early in the second half, but then Wichita State went on a run, opening the lead back out to eight. Alabama's leading scorer, JaMychal Green, got in foul trouble for the second straight game, going out with four fouls with 10:59 remaining. The Crimson Tide kept it close, until Graham Hatch buried back-to-back treys to push a 58-52 lead to 64-52 with three minutes remaining. The game was over right there.
STAR WATCH: Hatch and J.T. Durley led a balanced Wichita State attack with 12 points apiece -- Hatch made all four of his field-goal attempts, and all four were from beyond the 3-point arc, including those two Alabama back-breakers.
Tony Mitchell had 13 points to lead Alabama, while Green added 12.
NUMBER CRUNCH: In a pretty tight game, 3-point shooting played a pivotal role (as it often does in college basketball). The Shockers made seven of their 15 attempts from beyond the arc -- the Crimson Tide made just two of 14.
WHAT'S NEXT: Sadly, there are no more games left for either of these teams -- their seasons are over.