Gophers defeat shorthanded Alabama after entire Tide bench ejected
NEW YORK -- Nate Mason scored 20 points to lead No. 14 Minnesota to an 89-84 victory over No. 25 Alabama, which finished the game with just three players, in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic on Saturday.
Jordan Murphy scored 19 points and and grabbed 14 rebounds for Minnesota (7-0) while Isaiah Washington added 14 and Amir Coffey finished with 12.
Collin Sexton had 40 points for the Crimson Tide while Riley Norris had 13 and Galin Smith added 10.
Only the third ever matchup between the Southeastern Conference and Big 10 programs was marred by a near brawl involving Minnesota's Dupree McBrayer and Alabama's Dazon Ingram in front of the Crimson Tide bench 6:21 into the second half. Just 27 seconds earlier, Minnesota's Nate Mason and Sexton were each assessed technical fouls for talking to each other, and the Golden Gophers senior guard was ejected.
During the fracas, Alabama players Donta Hall, Alex Reese, Daniel Giddens, Avery Johnson Jr. and Herbert Jones came off the bench and were ejected. Ingram, who had four fouls at the time of the scuffle, fouled out.
Nearly 3 minutes after the McBrayer-Ingram incident, Alabama lost John Petty to a leg injury, and the Crimson Tide ended the game playing just three players.
Leading by 14 with 10:17 left, the Golden Gophers saw their lead trimmed to 83-80 on Sexton's layup. Alabama had a chance to cut the deficit to one -- or tie -- after Sexton grabbed a rebound of a miss by Coffey, but he missed a mid-range right side jumper.
Coffey responded with a layup and foul to push the lead to 86-80, only to see Smith's dunk bring the Crimson Tide within four. McBrayer knocked down two free throws with 18 seconds remaining and Michael Hurt's free throw increased Minnesota's lead to 89-83, before Sexton made two free throws with 1 second remaining.
ALABAMA: Following Friday's 72-59 win over BYU, coach Avery Johnson said his team wasn't ready to take the next step. And what transpired on the Barclays Center court may have proved him right. Alabama played much of the second half without a bench due to five players being ejected, another fouling out and another being injured.
MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers looked ready for Big 10 play. Minnesota grabbed 40 rebounds -- 17 offensive -- while blocking six shots and forcing 13 turnovers.
ALABAMA: It could be argued the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic was Sexton's national coming out party. He entered the game leading the Crimson Tide in points (21.5 per game) and assists (4.3).
MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers improved to 1-2 all-time against Alabama.
ALABAMA: Hosts Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night.
MINNESOTA: Hosts No. 11 Miami on Wednesday night.