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January 25, 2012COLUMBIA, S.C. | On the bright side for the University of Alabama basketball team, JaMychal Green had a decent look at a 16-foot jumper to potentially tie the game against South Carolina.
On the bad side? Pretty much everything else.
The Crimson Tide dropped its fourth straight Southeastern Conference game Wednesday night, falling in the final seconds to last-place South Carolina, 56-54. The Gamecocks' game-winning basket came as point guard Bruce Ellington shot right down the lane for a layup with 1.3 seconds remaining.
"The play was designed for me to penetrate or get a shot, and I got a shot," Ellington. "I guess their guys respected our shooters and kind of backed up."
Alabama had given South Carolina the chance to win by turning the ball over on its previous possession, as Trevor Releford's entry pass to Green was batted away by Malik Cooke and stolen with 26 seconds remaining.
That allowed the Gamecocks to set up a final possession, and while UA twice gave fouls and forced South Carolina to bring the ball inbounds, it did little to impede Ellington's progress to the basket as he rolled in the game-winner.
"He made a play," said UA coach Anthony Grant. "He drove to the lane and made a layup."
Grant then questioned the effort of his own team.
"South Carolina played inspired basketball, played as team and we didn't," he said. "It has been a concern for us for some time. We played entitled basketball. I've got to re-evaluate myself as a coach when winning doesn't seem to be the priority it needs to be.
"On our last possession (before Green's desperation shot at the buzzer), we can't have a turnover there," Grant said. "I will have to look at the film, but we've got to get a shot to the rim in that situation."
Alabama players were not made available for post-game interviews.
Freshman Levi Randoph, coming off the bench for the first time this season, responded with 12 points to lead UA. Tony Mitchell added 11 points for UA. JaMychal Green had just six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of playing time.
Malik Cooke led South Carolina (8-10, 1-4 SEC) with 18 points. The Gamecocks won despite making just five of 31 3-point shots.
"It wasn't boring by any stretch, but we made the plays we needed to make at the end," said South Carolina coach Darrin Horn. "The last play was designed for Bruce to get something up to the rim, either make it or get it up there where someone can tip one in."
Alabama (13-7) will play Arkansas at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or at 205-722-0225.