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Tide avoids SEC NCAA washout; AU, UAB headed home after first round

SPOKANE, Wash. – In what was motley a lost weekend for men’s basketball teams of the Southeastern Conference, Alabama survived and moved on to earn a berth in the Sweet 16.

Tennessee will join the Crimson Tide after advancing out of the first two rounds.

The results weren’t so good for Auburn, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina. They all lost in the first round. Texas A&M fell in the second round.

Meanwhile, two other state teams lost in the first round – UAB and Samford.

The news was somewhat better for SEC teams in the women’s tournament. While Auburn lost a play-in game, and Alabama dropped a second matchup and Vanderbilt fell in the first, Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina and Ole Miss are alive. The Gamecocks and Tigers already advanced to the Sweet 16, while the Lady Vols and Rebels play second round games tonight.

In Washington state, Alabama’s men defeated Coastal Carolina 109-96 and Grand Canyon 72-61. The fourth-seeded Crimson Tide will now play No. 1 North Carolina in a West Region clash Thursday at 8:39 p.m. (CBS) at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Alabama seeks its second appearance all-time in the Elite Eight and first trip to the Final Four. The blue blood Tar Heels are a 4.5-point favorite over Alabama.

“I think our non-conference schedule got us ready for this,” Tide head coach Nate Oats said. “Four teams in the non-conference are all in the Sweet 16 and we lost all four, but I thought we got better from it.”

Oats said Latrell Wrightsell, who took an elbow to the head against Grand Canyon, will play against North Carolina.

Auburn, UAB exit

Both the Tigers and Blazer also played in Spokane, and both lost – Auburn to Yale (78-76) and UAB to San Diego State ( 69-65). 

The Tigers headed to the West Coast feeling slighted by the tournament committee, which included Alabama AD Greg Byrne, for being a fourth seed after winning 27 games and capturing the SEC Tournament championship. Then, three minutes into the game, third-leading Tigers scorer Chad Baker-Mazara was ejected after throwing an elbow into the chest of Yale’s August Mahoney.

Baker-Mazara made good on his vow to play the “villain” if necessary for Auburn. He received a Flagrant 2 foul for the intentional elbow and was sent to the locker room for the rest of the game. Replays later showed that Mahoney had hit Baker-Mazara in the throat as the players headed down court, and on the return trip the Tigers player retaliated.

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said immediately afterward during a television timeout “what (Baker-Mazara) did was wrong,” but also felt the ejection was severe.

“I thought it should have been a Flagrant 1, not a 2, especially after an entire season of work.”

The 13th-seeded Bulldogs got drilled 85-57 Sunday night by No. 5 San Diego State.

UAB earned a berth in the Big Dance by winning the American Athletic Conference tournament.

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