Herb Jones scored 20 factors to assist Alabama draw back from Iona and coach Rick Pitino for a 68-55 victory within the NCAA Event
INDIANAPOLIS — All people knew Rick Pitino would come ready.
That he will not get to make use of any extra of the eight designer fits he packed for the NCAA Event is simply due to an Alabama staff that got here at Iona in waves Saturday and eventually pulled away for a 68-55 win to finish Pitino’s goals as a No. 15 seed.
“To be sincere, we thought we may win tonight,” the coach stated.
In fact they did. It is why Pitino packed for the lengthy haul on this journey to Indianapolis, figuring it may very well be like so lots of his different 21 journeys to March Insanity — possibly just like the time he took underdog Windfall and Billy Donovan to the Remaining 4 again in 1987 as a 6.
This time, Pitino had his worst seed ever and second-seeded Alabama (25-6) was an excessive amount of.
Herb Jones led the Crimson Tide with 20 factors, together with a steal and layup that highlighted an 11-0 run and gave Alabama respiratory room at 58-46 with 6:36 left after the groups seesawed the lead by way of a lot of the second half.
“I assumed their youngsters got here able to play,” Alabama coach Nate Oats stated. “They’ve bought some good gamers. Clearly, coach Pitino had them nicely ready.”
That is the fifth, and possibly very unlikely, program Pitino has delivered to the match, largely as a result of the Gaels (12-6) went 50 days with out taking part in a sport in midseason attributable to COVID-19.
However they gained their convention match as a 9 seed, and felt as in the event that they have been rolling coming into Indy.
Pitino, who has led Kentucky and Louisville to nationwide titles, coached like he at all times does.
Carrying a black go well with with a maroon tie that matched his staff’s colours, the 68-year-old urged, cajoled, yelped and stomped his black footwear on the hardwood to seize his gamers’ consideration.
More often than not, he had them in the correct place.
Iona compelled 14 turnovers, and Alabama had bother getting an open search for many of the first half-hour. The Gaels bought a lot of open appears themselves. What did them in was an lack of ability to make them. Isaiah Ross scored 19 factors on 8-for-18 taking pictures. The remainder of the staff went 15 for 41.
“We have been offensively challenged all 12 months,” Pitino stated. “However they gave me their coronary heart your complete 12 months. I’m actually happy with them. Sadly, we didn’t have sufficient weapons to beat Alabama.”
Iona additionally bought dominated 42-26 in rebounds, a stat Pitino stated shocked him.
Certainly, the deeper, extra athletic staff lastly wore them down.
Alabama is within the match with its finest seeding in historical past, on the power of its first SEC Event title in 30 years. Because the buzzer sounded, Oats shared a handshake with Pitino and a chorus extra generally heard on the gridiron echoed from the rafters at Hinkle Fieldhouse: “Roll Tide.”
Pitino is not executed believing his staff may very well be give extra groups like that matches in coming years.
“The factor is, it was by no means actually about me,” he stated. “I got here again to Iona. I wished no a part of the so-called big-time anymore. I had sufficient of that. I wished to take a smaller faculty like Windfall, like Iona, and attempt to make it massive.”
BIG TIME BLUES
Pitino stated it wasn’t a lot the big-time that he was executed with, however what occurred to him whereas he was teaching within the massive time. He was ousted from Louisville after a scandal-ridden tenure that included a pay-for-play case.
“I’m turned off about what occurred to me,” he stated. “I need no a part of that anymore. I simply need to coach and train younger individuals easy methods to turn out to be higher basketball gamers.”
Alabama performs the winner between UConn and Maryland who met later Saturday.
Pitino says issues are simply getting going at Iona, the place he’s engaged on a more durable schedule which may give the Gaels an opportunity at an at-large bid in the event that they don’t win the convention.
Extra AP school basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/School-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25 and https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket