Having slipped to the fringes of the bubble as a result of three losses in its previous four games, Alabama desperately needed a home win against Georgia to keep faint hope alive of earning an at-large bid.
Trevor Releford made sure the Tide got that victory, and he did it in the most unlikely way possible.
When Georgia's Charles Mann drove to the rim but had the ball poked away as he went up for the potential go-ahead shot, Alabama's Rodney Cooper grabbed the ball and threw an outlet pass to Releford. The Alabama guard took a dribble and buried a shot from beyond mid-court as the final buzzer sounded, preventing overtime and giving the Tide a 61-58 victory.
The half-court prayer from Releford soothed Alabama's frustration at blowing a 14-point second-half lead and kept the Tide relevant entering what should be a wide-open SEC tournament. Despite road losses to Florida, Mississippi and LSU in the past two weeks, Alabama (20-11, 12-6) finished in a second-place tie in the SEC and will earn the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament.
It's unclear exactly what Alabama will need to make the NCAA tournament, but the Tide probably wouldn't have reason to feel good about their chances without an SEC title game appearance. It's not an easy road with Tennessee as a potential quarterfinal opponent and Florida possibly looming in a semifinal, but thanks to Releford's heroics, the dream of an at-large bid isn't dead yet.
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