For the third straight season, the University of Alabama will continue its men’s basketball season in the NIT. The Crimson Tide will be a No. 3 seed in this year’s event, hosting Richmond at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night.
“We’re excited about participating in the NIT off of a fantastic finish in the SEC Tournament,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “We came up a little short against a Kentucky team that won the tournament but I thought we played well. We showed that we have grown up some on the offensive end and we’ve been a good defensive team all year.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t make it, there at the end, into the NCAA Tournament but we are excited to be in the NIT.”
Johnson was asked if Alabama, now 19-14, considered “turning down” an NCAA bid, a notion he dismissed out of hand.
“If we’ve got five guys who are healthy and we’re invited, we’re going to postseason play,” Johnson said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve tried not to have unrealistic expectations about our team. We haven’t had the home success we wanted this year. We had two or three games that were winnable games and we couldn’t finish. But we’re going to be ready to play at 8:15 on Tuesday night and if we can jumpstart our team for next year a little bit, that will be great. I wish our students (who are on spring break) could be there, but it is always good to play at home.”
Richmond, which plays in the Atlantic 10 Confrerence, was 20-12 this season with its best win coming against NCAA participant Richmond. The Spiders’ 6-foot-9 center, T.J. Cline, averaged 18 points per game in earning All-A-10 honors. Junior Khwan Fore, the starting point guard, is a Huntsville native who played at Lee High School.
The first-round game in the NIT’s Iowa quadrant will tip off at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday night. With a win, Alabama would advance to play the winner of the Clemson-Oakland first-round game.
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