File - In this March 12, 2015, file photo, Alabama head coach Anthony Grant speaks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament against Florida, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama fired Gr
Mark Humphrey, File
March 16, 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama associate head coach John Brannen will lead the team through the NIT after the firing of Anthony Grant.

Athletic director Bill Battle named Brannen interim head coach Monday. The Crimson Tide opens the NIT Tuesday night against Illinois at Coleman Coliseum, just two days after Grant's firing.

Brannen worked under Grant the past nine years at Alabama and VCU and is a 16-year coaching veteran.

He says he checked with Grant before accepting the interim duties. Brannen says it's been an emotional time for the team and assistants and says ''our loyalty as a coaching staff is to coach Grant.''

Brannen says the players were asked if they wanted to accept a bid to the NIT if it came, ''and they definitely did.''

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