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Tight games becoming norm for Alabama basketball

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Alabama is getting used to heart-thumping finishes, for better and worse.

The Crimson Tide split a pair of two-point games last week to continue a trend of outcomes that aren't decided until the final shot comes down going into Tuesday night's game with Florida at Coleman Coliseum.

Three of Alabama's last four games, and five of the last 11, have been decided by one or two points. No other SEC team has had as many such games except Auburn (also five).

''Everything you go through, you want to use it to make you better,'' Tide coach Anthony Grant said on Monday. ''Obviously we've had some tough defeats in close games and a great victory the other day in a game where we had guys step up. It's all a part of the process.''

It's been a painful part at times for Alabama (13-6, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), which is still trying to make its first NCAA tournament in three years. The three losses by one or two points hurt the already shaky case for the Tide, which stands 50th in the NCAA's RPI.

How those five nail biters ended:

-Alabama overcame an eight-point deficit late to beat Auburn 57-55 Saturday night on Rodney Cooper's putback with 5.8 seconds left. Levi Randolph scored nine points over the final 4:29.

''They were able to come back from a deficit and he was able to step up and make big shots,'' Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. ''That was probably the most impressive thing for me, was his performance.''

-Bobby Portis's buzzer-beating putback in overtime gave Arkansas a 93-91 win two nights earlier.

-Randolph's 3-pointer hit the rim as time ran out in a 68-66 loss at South Carolina.

-Appalachian State missed a contested 3-pointer in the final seconds to allow Alabama to escape with a 60-59 win.

-The Tide blew an 11-point lead in the final six minutes of a 53-52 loss at No. 12 Wichita State.

Florida, incidentally, is 0-4 in games where one two-point basket was the difference, including Saturday's 72-71 loss to Mississippi. The Gators are on a three-game losing streak and haven't dropped four in a row since 2008.

Gators coach Billy Donovan isn't promising a turnaround - or discounting the possibility.

''We've shown no signs of consistency,'' Donovan said. ''Now, we're working on those things, but I haven't seen any signs that make me say, `Yeah, we're OK, we're OK.' (Or) `We're not OK.' For me, as a coach, I love going on the court with these guys. I love coaching them and being around them. If this was an attitude or behavioral issue, I'd be a lot more disappointed. It's not that at all.

''It's the consistency of being able to do it night in and night out for 40 minutes, practice in and practice out for 40 minutes.''


AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Gainesville, Florida, contributed to this report.