March Madness: Alabama survives chaotic fight with Grand Canyon to reach Sweet 16

The Crimson Tide closed the game on a 10-0 burst to grab a 72-61 win over Grand Canyon on Sunday night

The quality wasn’t great. Several times, the game even teetered into a chaotic AAU matchup meant for a random summer gym instead of an NCAA tournament site.

But in the end, Alabama did just enough to keep its season alive on Sunday night.

The No. 4 seed Crimson Tide survived a wild battle to beat No. 12 Grand Canyon 72-61 in Spokane, Washington, on Sunday in their second-round NCAA tournament matchup. That officially sent them back to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the past five seasons, and sets up a matchup with top-seeded North Carolina in Los Angeles week.

After putting up 109 points in its first-round game, many expected Alabama to run away with Sunday’s game offensively. The contest, though, was far from a shootout — especially in the early minutes.

Things got pretty contentious early on, too. Alabama head coach Nate Oats picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official in the first half. Oats then criticized the officiating during an in-game interview, and then the Alabama bench earned a second technical before halftime.

Alabama's Latrell Wrightsell Jr. left the game in the first half after he took a shot to the head while trying to contest a corner 3-pointer, too. He remained down on the court for quite some time after his awkward fall, and he eventually walked off the floor to the locker room. The team then ruled him out with a head injury, something he dealt with earlier in the season.

After a slow start that produced just 10 combined points in the first six minutes, Alabama finally surged ahead just before halftime on a big 10-2 run to close out the period — which gave them an eight-point lead at the break. Grand Canyon went just 2 of 12 from behind the arc and missed eight free throws in the first 20 minutes of the game.

The second half turned very chaotic. Both teams started rushing just about everything, there was little actual offense being run, and there were constant mistakes back and forth as the officials largely let the game play out. Every time Grand Canyon seemed to take advantage of a mistake, like when Gabe McGlothan came up with a huge steal, Alabama managed to save itself.

Finally, though, the Antelopes’ offense — what little of it was there to begin with — shut down completely. Mouhamed Dioubate, who came off the bench strong in the second half, helped spark a huge 17-3 run to close out the game for Alabama. That allowed the Crimson Tide to finally pull away and take the 11-point win.

Tyon Grant-Foster led the Lopes with 29 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in the win. He was the only player to hit double figures, and the only one to make a 3-pointer. The Lopes went just 2 of 20 from behind the arc as a team, and they missed 14 free throws. Grant-Foster went 9 of 16 from the stripe himself.

Mark Sears led Alabama with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the win. Rylan Griffen added 13 points, though he was the only other player to hit double figures. Alabama shot just 37% from the field as a team, but they outrebounded the Lopes by nine. The two teams combined for 27 total turnovers.

Despite all of the chaos and rough basketball, Alabama is moving on. But if Oats is going to lead his team past the Tar Heels and into the Elite Eight — a spot they haven’t been as a program since 2004 — they’ll have to tighten things up quite a bit over the coming days.