The 2011 NIT Basketball Tournament is reaching a climax, with the NIT Final Four taking place in Madison Square Garden. Two of the teams in the final group believe they should be playing in another tournament right now but want to make the most of their NIT appearance.
That was the stage tonight when the Colorado Buffaloes and Alabama Crimson Tide battled in one of two NIT Semifinals games. In the end, it was the Tide pulling out a 62-61 win after Trevor Releford scored with 12 seconds remaining to give the Tide the lead.
Colorado had a chance – and plenty of time – to answer the score, but sophomore Alec Burks’ attempt at the buzzer was off-line sending the Tide to the NIT Championship Game where they will face the Wichita State Shockers.
Burk scored 20 points while Levi Knutson scored 14 for the Buffaloes whose season comes to an end at 24-14. The Buffs have been labeled as a NCAA Tourney snub this year, a pill made that much more bitter by VCU’s improbable run to the Final Four. VCU had to win a ‘First Four’ game just to get into the Field of 64, and many thought their spot should have gone to Colorado.
JaMychal Green scored 22 points for the Tide(25-11) who also feel they should be playing in the big-boy tournament. At least for them there is the consolation of another basketball game – and the chances that they could win a post-season tournament.
Alabama led 36-30 at halftime, after both teams used 10-0 runs in the first 20 minutes in an attempt to take control. The Crimson Tide built the lead to 40-30 on a pair of baskets by Green shortly after the break before Colorado slowly climbed back into it.
Green went to the bench with his fourth foul with 12:19 left, and Colorado pulled ahead 48-47 moments later on a basket by Releford and a free throw by Higgins.
Colorado still led 57-52 with 6:02 left, about the same time that Green finally checked back into the game. He scored a couple minutes later to start an 8-0 run, which Charvez Davis capped with a basket that made it 60-57 with 2:56 remaining.