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After thriller win over UNC, Alabama advances to Elite Eight

The Alabama Crimson Tide is headed to the Elite Eight.

For the first time in 20 years, and only the second time in program history, Alabama is one win away from the Final Four.

In a thriller in Los Angeles, Alabama defeated the West region’s No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels by a score of 89-87 to clinch what was perhaps the biggest win in program history to this point.

Alabama trailed by eight at halftime after a first frame where it felt like UNC could not miss no matter what they did.

The Tar Heels shot 62.5 percent from the three-point line in the first half, with old foe Cormac Ryan converting on four of his five attempts.

In a first half where the Tide gave up 54, it felt less like the extreme defensive issues the team has faced and more that UNC was simply making shots.

But the second half was an entirely different tale, with Alabama holding an electric Tar Heel offense to just 33 points.

It was the Grant Nelson show on both ends of the floor, with Nelson putting up his best performance in an Alabama uniform.

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He led Alabama in scoring with 24 points and 12 rebounds including four on the offensive end, and he also anchored the defense with five blocks and a steal.

Nelson had an and-one with under 40 seconds left which would put Alabama on top for good, then a huge block on the other end would be what officially sealed the deal.

Outside of Nelson, Alabama got huge performances from its whole starting lineup even with Latrell Wrightsell out. Mark Sears had 18 points along with 19 each from Aaron Estrada and Rylan Griffen.

“It’s not easy to win these games to get to an Elite 8. There’s only been one ever at Alabama,” Oats said. “[Alabama] has had all kinds of great players and great teams…I thought we had a spot on game plan. We gotta do the same thing against Clemson, we won’t be getting a lot of sleep tonight.”

The Tide now have a chance to do what it has never done in program history and make the Final Four. Clemson, who defeated Alabama at Coleman Coliseum earlier this season, has qualified for the Elite Eight as a No. 6 seed.

The game will be played on Saturday evening in Los Angeles at 7:39 P.M. CST on CBS.

Michael Brauner is a Senior Sports Analyst and Contributing Writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP

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