NEW YORK, NY – The Alabama men's basketball team fell to the Wichita State Shockers, 66-57, in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Crimson Tide finished its season at 25-12, earning the program's most victories since the 2001-02 season.
Sophomore forward Tony Mitchell notched his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds, while junior forward JaMychal Green, plagued by foul trouble for most of the second half, scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Senior guard Charvez Davis and freshman guard Trevor Releford each scored 10 points for Alabama.
"Congratulations to Wichita State, I thought they played outstanding today," UA head coach Anthony Grant said. "We give them credit, but at the same time it takes nothing away from our young men and what we accomplished over the course of the season. I'm extremely proud of the effort our guys gave us."
Both Green and Releford were named to the All-NIT team following their efforts over UA's five-game tournament run. Releford averaged a team-high 15.4 points per game along with 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals while Green averaged 12.6 points per game and 6.4 rebounds. In the two games at Madison Square Garden, Releford averaged 11.5 points, 5.0 steals and 4.5 rebounds while Green contributed 16.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.
Trailing 37-34 at halftime, the Tide fought back over the first five minutes of the half to take a 41-40 lead before Wichita State used an 11-2 run to pull in front 51-43, at the 9:25 mark. Alabama slowly cut into the margin, pulling within four with 5:51 remaining. However, the Shockers utilized an 11-1 run to put the game out of reach in the closing minutes.
"I'm proud of our seniors, you want to play for a championship and end this thing the right way for our seniors," Grant said. "I'm proud of the effort those guys gave us. For our younger guys I think this is a great building block and learning experience as we continue to build our program with the aspirations to play for a championship."
After both teams traded baskets in the early stages of the game, the Tide used a 7-0 run to pull in front of Wichita State 13-8. Alabama maintained its advantage over the next several minutes and held a 17-12 lead at the 11:11 mark of the half following two free throws by freshman forward Charles Hankerson, Jr.
From there the game featured one tie and six lead changes for a five minute stretch before the Shockers were able to build a 33-25 advantage at the 4:47 juncture. Following the Wichita State run, the Tide was able to cut into the margin over the latter stages of the half, outscoring the Shockers by a 9-4 margin to go into halftime trailing 37-34.
Green led UA with 10 points first half points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line, while Mitchell added nine points and four rebounds.