A look at Alabama’s shot in SEC basketball tournament

This was my game story/advance look at this afternoon’s Alabama-Florida SEC quarterfinal in Kentucky New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — Staring down a wall of empty, checkered seats, Trevor Lacey took the pass as the shot clock wound down. Just a minute remained and Alabama was close to trouble.

AP photo

Alabama hadn’t made a 3 all day when instincts took over. The Crimson Tide’s prized recruit finished off South Carolina with a smooth stroke from the top of the key. It capped the freshman-powered 63-57 win, pushing Alabama into the SEC tournament quarterfinals. The game typified the final few weeks of an unsightly yet effective run.

Lacey’s last-minute 3 put Alabama up by five in a mostly-vacant, hushed New Orleans Arena.

“Andrew Steele took on a double team and found me at the top of the key,” Lacey said. “And I just had to make them pay for leaving me open.”

The long-range jumper was a second-half anomaly for Alabama, now 21-10 this season. It was just the fifth of the half, though 15-for-19 free-throw shooting kept South Carolina from breaking a late-game tie.

Still, the Gamecocks (10-21) managed to muddy the waters once again. After trailing by as many as 14 in the first half, South Carolina had an occasional hot shooting hand. Reserve Brenton Williams made each of his three 3-point shots — two in a 25-second span — to tie the game at 53 with 6:39 left.

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