After three straight losses the Crimson Tide basketball team was in great need of a victory. The Tide got one, going into Athens and beating the struggling Georgia Bulldogs by a score of 105-102 in overtime.
The shorthanded Bama team gutted out another blown half time lead, but paced by 37 points from Kira Lewis, came back from 12 points down, forced overtime, and grabbed the victory. Alabama improved to 13-10 overall and 5-5 in the SEC, the Bulldogs fell to 12-11 overall and a putrid 2-8 in the SEC. The Dawgs have the player widely believed to be the number one player selected in this summers NBA draft in freshman Anthony Edwards. Coach Tom Crean brought in other uber talented new comers, but they haven't translated to victories. Maybe the coach is more similar to his brother-in-law, Jim Harbaugh, than many think.
The Tide started slowly, but a nine-to-zero run got them in front early. Lewis and John Petty were scoring in the lane, and Javian Davis added some nice play also. The long ball was not falling, 2-11 in the first half, but Bama was able to drive the lane and score successfully. Lewis had 12 points at the break and Petty had tallied 11, and the Tide led 45-41 as they went into the locker room.
At the half, the Tide was shooting fantastically from two-point range, 18-26, but the 2-11 from deep brought the total down to 20-37 for 54%. Free throws were also a problem, making only 3-6 in the first stanza. The Bulldogs also shot well, 16-31 for 52%, including 4-12 from deep and an also bad 5-9 from the free throw line.
Georgia came out of the locker room with bad intentions, and quickly blew past the Tide, building a lead of 12 points with just over 15 minutes remaining. UGA used a 21-8 spurt to build the biggest lead of the game by either team.
Then, Beetle Bolden, Lewis, and Davis got hot, and when Bolden willed a twisting layup into the basket, the Tide had regained the lead by a scored of 68-67 with 10:31 left in the game.
From there the two went at each other like a heavyweight fight, trading blows, as each squad struggled to stay on their feet. With just 44 seconds left in regulation Lewis was fouled with the Tide up 91-88. Lewis missed the front end of the one and one and the Dogs remained alive. An easy layup cut the lead to 91-90 with 31 seconds left. Lewis was fouled and made only one of two shots, for a 92-90 lead. Another easy layup tied things up for Georgia.
With 21 ticks on the clock the Tide had the ball with a chance to win the game in regulation. Lewis was called for a charge, giving UGA the ball back with 2.8 seconds left. Fortunately the Dawgs missed a game-winning attempt, and the game went to overtime.
The teams traded baskets as the extra period began. but when Lewis made two free throws with two minutes left, the Tide had a 98-96 lead. Bama tightened up on defense and started making some stops. Petty rebounded a miss and was fouled, knocking down one of the two for a 99-96 lead. Jaden Shackelford made two clutch free shots for a three point lead with 1:16 left. Lewis made one of two on the next possession and the lead was 102-98 with 14. 7 ticks remaining. The Tide was in a position that they shouldn't foul, but of course they did. Davis hit Anthony Edwards on a drive, and luckily the basket didn't all, but after his two free ones the lead was down to 102-100. Petty was fouled and made both, for a 104-100 lead with 8.5 seconds left.
Once again, don't foul, right? Well, about that.
Bolden committed a foul on a drive to the basket, and the Dogs cut the lead to 104-102. Petty was fouled, again, and missed the first free throw, but sucked it up and drained the second one. The Dogs had a semi good look at a three pointer, but missed, and the Tide grabbed the much needed 105-102 victory.
In the second half, the Tide shot well again, 16-30 for 53%, including 6-13 for 46% from three point range, and hit 9-12 free throws. In overtime the team shot 2-5, 0-1 and 9-12 from the field, from deep, and from the free throw line, respectively. Bama grabbed 37 rebounds, dished 17 assists, cut their turnovers to 14, had three blocks, and six steals.
Overall the Tide was 38-72 (53%), 8-25 (32%), and 21-30 for 70% from the free throw line. UGA was 21-40 from the floor in the second half, 3-10 from deep, and 6-6 from the line. In overtime they shot only 2-8, 0-4 from deep, and 6-6 from the free throw line. The Dogs clocked in just under 50% for the game, 39-79 for 49%, 7-26 from three (27%) and 17-21 from the free throw line for 81%. Georgia won the battle of the boards with 42, had 18 assists. committed 14 turnovers, had three blocks and seven steals.
Lewis was the star of the game, with 37 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and only three turnovers. Petty chipped in 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, as well as playing very good defense. The unsung hero was Davis with 13 points and eight big rebounds. The redshirt freshman showed good feet and hands around the basket and just had a fine all-around game. Davis won the team’s hard hat award for the game. Coach Nate Oats said after the game that Davis was receiving IV’s for cramps and dehydration. Bolden, with 11, and Shackelford, with 10, gave the team five players in double figures. Oats pretty much ran with a six-man rotation, as Galin Smith logged only eight minutes, and Jaylen Forbes saw just 10.
Big, big win for the Tide.
Much needed to break the three-game losing streak. The win was their first since Herbert Jones surgery, and showed they could win a game without him — and on the road as well. The free throw shooting down the stretch was a little disconcerting, especially from Lewis. However, the team could have easily folded up when they fell behind by 12 in the second half, as many Tide teams in the past have. There really isn't any quit in this squad. They may not always play smart, and obviously have blown some big leads this season, but the battle to the end, a good reflection of their blue collar coach.
The next game will be a tough one, on the plains against the red hot Auburn Tigers. The Tide blasted the Tigers a home on January 15th by a score of 83-64. The Barn beat Arkansas in overtime in Fayetteville on Wednesday, and beat the LSU Tigers in overtime at home on Saturday. The Auburn Jesus is alive and well, and the atmosphere at their little gym is raucous, and truly gives the Tigers a huge homecourt advantage.
The game is Wednesday, February 12th at 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
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