ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Ticker) -- Earnest Shelton scored a career-high 29 points as No. 19 Alabama posted a 78-72 victory over Minnesota in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
After Minnesota closed to 64-62 on Brent Lawson's layup with 3:50 remaining, Shelton scored six points down the stretch to help the Crimson Tide (4-0) hold off the Golden Gophers.
"They were a really good team," Shelton said. "They were big inside, huge inside, and we're kind of thin inside and they did a good job of feeding their big men, but we found a way to get it done."
Kennedy Winston added 18 points and nine rebounds for Alabama, which will face Washington or Oklahoma in Saturday's championship game.
The Crimson Tide only shot 44.5 percent (20-of-44) from the field but made 30-of-36 free throws. Shelton (10-of-12) missed two free throws while Ronald Steele (8-of-8) and Chuck Davis (6-of-6) were perfect. Steele finished with 14 points.
"We stepped up and made foul shots, but defensively we were just OK," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "That's where we've got to get better and we've got to do it tomorrow."
Alabama committed only four turnovers in the second half after turning the ball over 11 times in the opening half.
"We cut down on our turnovers in the second half," Gottfried said. "That hurt us early in the game."
Dan Coleman scored 16 points and Vincent Grier added 11 for Minnesota (2-1), which lost for the first time in five games in this tournament. The Gophers won the Great Alaska Shootout in their previous appearance here in 1994.
Alabama improved to 4-0 all-time against Minnesota.
Aaron Robinson scored 14 points and Jeff Hagen added 12 for the Gophers (25-of-61), who made five more baskets than the Crimson Tide but converted only 17-of-25 attempts from the line.
The Gophers took their last lead, 25-23, on Robinson's 3-pointer with 4:50 left in the first half, but the Crimson Tide responded with a 15-8 spurt and led by five at intermission.
Coleman scored 10 points in the first eight minutes of the second half, helping Minnesota close within 52-51. Shelton scored four points in a 10-4 spurt that gave Alabama a 63-55 advantage with 6:50 to go.
"Earnest played big with big shots all night long," Gottfried said. "He did a great job, and then we hung in and rebounded the ball on the defensive end when we had to do it. Those were key things for us."
The Gophers pulled within 70-68 on Vincent Grier's two free throws with a minute left before Alabama sealed the win by making 8-of-10 free throws in the final 54 seconds.