TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Trevor Releford scored 19 points to lead Alabama to a 75-58 win over Georgia State in the NIT season tip-off.
Retin Obasohan added 18 points and three blocks for Alabama, which is now on a three-game winning streak.Rashaad Richardson led the Panthers with 16 points and Manny Atkins added 14.The Crimson Tide (3-1) will play No. 6 Duke at Madison Square Garden in the semifinal round of the preseason tournament on Nov. 27."We're excited about the opportunity to go to New York," Releford said. "That's what we're looking forward to. We're ready to play against anybody."Alabama will be playing in Madison Square Garden for the third time in four years.The Crimson Tide won last year's 2K Sports Classic at the Garden. They fell to Wichita State in the 2011 NIT final.Alabama just missed going back to New York last season when a last-second shot against Maryland in the NIT fell short."Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous arenas in the country," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "Any time you get a chance to play there it's a privilege and an honor. We're excited to have a chance to go back and compete at that arena."The game started with a first half that featured four lead changes. But with the score tied at 19 with 9:29 left in the half, Alabama went on a 15-2 run over the next 4:12 to break the game open and take the lead for good.The Crimson Tide started the second half with an 11-2 run that gave them a 17-point lead. They eventually extended the lead to as many as 23.Alabama out-rebounded the Panthers 40-24 and scored 22 points off of 13 turnovers."From a rebounding effort, it was probably our best effort," Grant said. "When you combine the defensive effort our guys put forth, combined with the rebounding, I thought we had a really good performance tonight."Alabama's newcomers enjoyed big nights. Freshman Shannon Hale scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench and fellow freshman Jimmy Taylor added six rebounds. Junior college transfer Algie Key scored seven points.Levi Randolph added 10 points and six rebounds.Curtis Washington recorded seven points and five rebounds for Georgia State, while Devonta White scored seven points.The Crimson Tide held the Panthers to 40 percent shooting from the field and just 5-of-17 from three. Georgia State's only other loss this season came at Vanderbilt."We didn't play well today by any stretch. What we want to do is make sure we get better so by March we're playing our best basketball," Panthers coach Ron Hunter said. "We're 0-2 in the SEC. We're probably going to be last place in the SEC. Fortunately for us, we play in the Sun Belt."Georgia State will face FIU next on Nov. 30.