TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Freshman guard Trevor Releford scored 22 points to lead Alabama to a 79-64 victory over Miami in the quarterfinals of the NIT on Wednesday night.
Senior Senario Hillman, playing in his last game in Coleman Coliseum where Alabama went a school-record 19-0 this season, scored 17 points and set a school record with 175 career steals. Tony Mitchell had 16 points and JaMychal Green added 14 for Alabama (24-11).The Crimson Tide will play Colorado in the semifinals in Madison Square Garden on March 29. Green and Mitchell both had nine rebounds for Alabama.Scott Durand had 19 points, Reggie Johnson had 14 points and seven rebounds and DeQuan Jones added 12 points for Miami (21-15).Alabama led by as many as 14 points in the first half, then withstood a Miami rally early in the second half before pulling away to the victory.The Crimson Tide took a 17-6 lead and extended it 24-10 on a layup by Hillman with 11:02 left in then first half. Miami went on a 12-6 run to make it 30-22 when Malcolm Grant made a 3-pointer with 4:23 left. The Crimson Tide responded by scoring six of the next 10 points to lead 36-26 at halftime."Our advantage was our speed and quickness and that turned out to be very effective," said Alabama coach Anthony Grant, a Miami native. "I thought we had success attacking them in transition."The Hurricanes opened the second half with a 15-6 run to pull within 42-41 on a fastbreak layup by DeQuan Jones with 14:15 to play. Alabama outscored Miami 33-16 to push the lead to 75-57, matching its largest of the game, when Releford made a free throw with 2:09 to go."Their athleticism took over in the second half," Miami coach Frank Haith said.