Earnest Shelton scored 22 points to inspire eighth-seeded Alabama to an 80-71 win over fifth-seeded Syracuse in a Phoenix Regional semifinal at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament on Thursday.
Alabama (20-12) pulled away from the defending national champion in the second half, five days after stunning top-ranked Stanford.
Chuck Davis and Kennedy Winston both added 19 points to help Alabama advance to an NCAA regional final for the first time in the school's history.
The Crimson Tide now face Connecticut Saturday with a Final Four berth at stake.
Alabama went 19-for-23 from the line, sinking 11 of its 12 free throws in the final 8:10, to fight off a comeback bid by the Orangemen (23-8).
Gerry McNamara scored 24 points for the defending national champion, 20 in the second half, but Syracuse could not keep pace with the Tide down the stretch.
Hakim Warrick had 19 points for Syracuse but only four in the second half.
In other games in the NCAA Tournament, second-seeded Connecticut cruised to an easy 73-53 win over sixth-seeded Vanderbilt in the other Phoenix Regional semi. Ben Gordon had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Huskies.
Oklahoma State, the No. 2 seed in the East Rutherford Region, received 23 points from Tony Allen to beat sixth-seeded Pittsburgh 63-51.
The Cowboys will play St Joseph's Saturday in the East Rutherford Region for the right to go to San Antonio for the Final Four.
St Joseph's were hard pressed against fourth-seeded Wake Forest but recorded an 84-80 victory to advance.
Jameer Nelson and Delonte West both scored 24 points for the top seeds.
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