Alabama, Providence chase fifth place in Maui Invitational

NCAA Basketball

Fifth place in college basketball’s Maui Invitational — being played in Asheville, N.C., this year — is on the line Wednesday night when Providence meets Alabama.

Both teams won their consolation-bracket games Tuesday night, with Providence edging Davidson 63-62 and Alabama taking care of UNLV 86-74.

Providence (2-1) held leads of 15-2 and 27-8 in the first half against Davidson, but the Wildcats fought back to make it a four-point game at halftime.

Davidson got within one with less than a minute to go, but the Friars held on despite two missed free throws in the closing seconds.

Center Nate Watson’s 22 points led the Friars. Jared Bynum added 14 points and David Duke had 13.

“We faced a very well-coached and physical team,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “I’m very proud of our guys.”

Alabama (2-1) got 22 points on 6-of-10 3-point shooting from guard John Petty Jr., and four other Crimson Tide players scored in double figures. The game was tied 38-38 at halftime before Alabama took control.

After a blowout loss to Stanford on Monday, Alabama was able to refocus and beat UNLV.

“Our big thing was we just needed to play harder,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “I thought some of our guys are figuring how hard they have to play in a Division I basketball game to get a win. You can’t afford to relax for a split second or you’re giving up a three.”

The Tide took 40 3-point attempts in the UNLV game and made 15 of them.

The Friars are 3-4 all time against the Crimson Tide, having beaten Alabama 82-70 on Dec. 11, 2010 in Providence, the most recent meeting between the teams. Alabama has claimed two of three meetings on neutral courts, including a 1-1 mark in NCAA Tournament matchups.

Providence owns an all-time 100-69 record at in-season tournaments. The Friars are in the Maui Invitational for the third time in program history.

Notable in the history between the programs: Rick Pitino’s upstart Friars, led by guard and future NBA coach Billy Donovan, pulled a 1987 upset of Derrick McKey-led Alabama 103-82 in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.

Providence, from the then-mighty Big East, was the sixth seed in the region while Alabama was No. 2.

–Field Level Media

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