What started out as a college basketball game on Saturday devolved into a near brawl at Barclays Center. And before it was over, the court resembled a hockey rink with one team playing two men short.
Alabama played three-on-five for the final 10 minutes after the Crimson Tide lost its entire bench to ejections, a foul out and an injury and still made a game of it before falling 89-84 to No. 14 Minnesota in the Barclays Center Classic championship game.
Only the third ever matchup between the Southeastern Conference and Big 10 programs was marred by the skirmish 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.
Nate Mason led Minnesota with 20 points. Jordan Murphy scored 19 points and and grabbed 14 rebounds for the 7-0 Gophers while Isaiah Washington added 14 and Amir Coffey finished with 12.
Collin Sexton had 40 points for the No. 25 Crimson Tide while Riley Norris had 13 and Galin Smith added 10.
Leading by 14 with 10:17 left, the Gophers saw their lead trimmed to 83-80 on a layup by Sexton. 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 a free throw by Michael Hurt increased Minnesota’s lead to 89-83, before Sexton made two free throws with 1 second remaining.