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November 15, 2012NEW YORK | It was a game that should have never needed a clutch 3-point shot, but Alabama got one anyway.
Rodney Cooper hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds to play, lifting the Crimson Tide, which had squandered a 15-point lead in the final 10 minutes, to a 65-62 win over Oregon State in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.
"We made enough plays in the last 12 seconds to win, but it seemed like it took a half-hour," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said.
"It's the mark of a young team," Grant said. "We were saying 'Run out clock" rather than going out and finishing the game."
Alabama led 52-37 with 12:35 remaining, but gave back all of that lead as the Beavers went on a 25-10 run, powered by the inside play of Devin Collier, who was too much to handle for any of Alabama's inside defenders. The Beavers capped their comeback with 44 seconds to go as Collier hit a pair of free throws.
Alabama finally managed to find its offensive touch again at the last possible moment.
"We ran a play called Flat where Trevor (Releford) comes off the 5-man and my man went to him," Cooper said. "My teammates have confidence in me so I just had to make the shot."
"The great thing about it, like Coop said, is that it was a play that came from one of our other guys," Grant said. "It was a play that came off penetration. Had 16 assists and eight turnovers, which was huge for us."
Oregon State set up for a potential tying shot, but coach Craig Robinson didn't like the look and called a time out, just before guard Ahmad Starks hit what could have been a tying 3-pointer.
"I usually let it flow, but it just didn't feel right," Robinson said. "So I call time out and he banged it. What are you going to do?"
The two teams played on virtually even teams in the first half, with the lead changing hands 11 times before Alabama was able to push the lead to 34-30 by intermission.
But Alabama opened the second half with a 12-2 run, pushing the lead to 46-32 and the Tide seemed headed for an easy win. Instead, the offensive output virtually vanished in the final eight minutes.
"You can't give them 12 more possessions and win a game like this," Robinson said. "You can't turn the ball over against any team, let alone a good SEC teams. We just got started late."
Collier led all scorers with 21 points for OSU. Trevor Lacey had 20 points and Releford came off the bench with 14.
Alabama will face Purdue or Villanova in tonight's 6:30 p,m. championship game,
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.