By PAUL NEWBERRY (AP Sports Writer)
Alabama rallied from 14 points down in the final 7 minutes of regulation and pulled it out in overtime, boosting its NCAA hopes with a stunning 65-59 victory over Georgia in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Friday.
JaMychal Green scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Crimson Tide (21-10), which advanced to face the Kentucky-Mississippi winner in the semifinals on March 12. Georgia (21-11) appeared to have it locked up when Travis Leslie dunked off a lob pass from Gerald Robinson to make it 48-34 with 7:33 remaining. But the Bulldogs have struggled to put teams away all year, and this was the worst collapse yet.
Leslie led Georgia with 24 points.
Dustin Ware banked in a 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer at the end of regulation, appearing to pull out the win for Georgia. But coach Mark Fox signaled timeout just before the ball left Ware’s hand, wiping out the basket. The Bulldogs didn’t come close with a desperation heave, sending the game to overtime.
Georgia had thrown this game away long before the inopportune timeout, though.
There were missed free throws, including consecutive rim-outs on the front end of 1-and-1s. There were turnovers, such as Robinson fumbling the ball out of bounds on a solo fast break, when Georgia would have been better served slowing things down.
While Green did most of the work on the inside, Tony Mitchell hit the biggest basket of the game for Alabama from beyond the arc. Getting open behind a screen, he buried a 3-pointer that gave the Crimson Tide a 62-59 lead with 1:33 remaining.
Georgia didn’t score again, twice missing both the initial shot and putbacks from right under the basket.
Up 53-51, Georgia had a chance for a clinching basket but couldn’t even get off a shot. Robinson lost control of the ball, then had to put up a wild 3 to beat the shot clock. All he hit was the support holding up the backboard, giving the ball back to Alabama.
Trevor Releford tied it with a burst into the lane, laying the ball in with his left hand with 4.2 seconds left. Georgia took off the other way and Ware appeared to have won it with his running 3.
The celebration didn’t last. After the officials recognized Fox’s timeout, Georgia had to inbound with just 0.8 seconds left, not enough time to get off much of a shot. Trey Thompkins put up a turnaround 3 with Green in his face, and the Alabama player appeared to get a hand on the shot, which fell harmlessly to the court.