And then there were three.
Alabama was forced to finish its game against Minnesota at the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn on Saturday with just three players after its entire bench was ejected following a wild scuffle and then two of its remaining five players departed because of fouls and an injury.
Collin Sexton, Galin Smith and Riley Norris played the final 10:41 for the No. 25 Crimson Tide, who cut their deficit to three (83-80) with 1:32 to play before losing to the No. 14 Golden Gophers 89-84.
"That was one of the most bizarre things I've ever been a part of," Jordan Murphy said after he scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Minnesota.
The drama began when Minnesota's Nate Mason and Alabama's Sexton started trash-talking after Mason caused the Crimson Tide freshman to fall on a previous play. Both players drew technical fouls. A few seconds later, Mason was tossed after he kept talking and picked up another technical foul. Then Minnesota coach Richard Pitino defended him and drew his own technical.
Soon after Alabama had taken four consecutive free throws for the string of Minnesota techs, Dupree McBrayer and Dazon Ingram got tangled up underneath, prompting a shoving match between both teams. Players on Alabama's bench ran onto the floor as officials tried to deal with the chaos.
Once the smoke cleared, officials decided to remove the entire Alabama bench, and those players proceeded to walk to the locker room. But officials weren't clear on whether any technical fouls had been assessed, and the Gophers did not take any free throws.
"By rule, whenever a potential situation occurs on the court, no player may leave the bench area. If they do leave the bench area and don't participate in the altercation that's going on, then they are ejected from this contest and there's no further penalty, which is what happened," the officials told a pool reporter. "They all came onto the court. We went to the monitor and reviewed all of that. Based on the views that were given us, it showed all of their players on the bench came off the bench onto the court. The views we were given, we didn't see anyone from the Minnesota bench come onto the floor."
With 11:37 to play, Ingram drew his fifth foul. That left just four players on the court for coach Avery Johnson's squad.
At the 10:41 mark, Tide freshman John Petty fell to the ground and grabbed his ankle after landing awkwardly after a shot. He limped to the bench and did not return.
Despite playing with just three players, Alabama went on a 26-16 run and actually outscored Minnesota 30-22 after Petty left with the injury. In fact, the Tide had a chance to cut their deficit to one with just over a minute left after Sexton grabbed a defensive rebound, but he missed a midrange jumper.
"We fought to the very end," Johnson said. "There was no surrender in our team. That's the bright spot in today's game."
After the game, Pitino and Johnson both laughed about what transpired.
"Collin Sexton could be a single team just by himself," Pitino said of the rookie, who finished with a Crimson Tide freshman record 40 points on 12-of-22 shooting. "He's that good. Obviously, that's just absurd, the whole experience. ... We were playing really good until it got wacky."
Sexton's efforts have been praised by many.
On Twitter, Cleveland Cavaliers star Dwyane Wade retweeted a clip of Sexton leading his three-man team in the final minutes of the game and added, "Nothing but heart! I love the way he [attacks] the game!"
Could the situation have gotten worse? According to NCAA rules, Johnson's squad could have continued with just two players, and perhaps only one, if the situation had demanded it.
Rule 3, Sec. 1, Article 3 states: "When there is only one player participating for a team, that team shall forfeit unless the referee believes that both teams have an opportunity to win."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.