Whew! What a game. Part comedy of errors, part brilliant play, part head scratching mistakes, but all heart and guts. The 18th ranked Crimson Tide basketball team outlasted top ranked North Carolina by a score of 103-101 in quadruple overtime on Sunday afternoon. The Tide battled back from losing Noah Clowney to a scary injury just three minutes into the game, and Brandon Miller to foul trouble, to persevere. They improved to 6-1 on the season while UNC fell to 5-2. The Tide took third place in the prestigious Phil Knight Invitational.
Coach Nate Oats started the same lineup of Miller, Mark Sears, Charles Bediako, Nimari Burnett, and Clowney, that has started all season. Sears hit a three pointer to start the scoring. Clowney went up for a shot and came down hard on his hip/tail bone, staying down for several minutes before being helped to the locker room. The freshman eventually made his way back to the bench but his day was over after just three minutes. Miller was plagued with early foul trouble and was not a factor in the first half.
Noah Gurley was pressed into playing more minutes and made his presence known early by hitting a three point shot to give the Tide a 9-7 lead at the 15:25 mark. Sears took over the scoring duties with help from Jahvon Quinerly and the Tide built a 28-23 lead with 4:49 left. Shortly after Miller drew his third foul on a (questionable) charge call. A Rylan Griffen three point shot pushed the Bama lead to 34-27 with 1:53 left in the half. Sears made his fourth from long range with 27 seconds left, but the Tar Heels were able to cut the lead to 37-34 at the break.
At the half, Bama was shooting a hot 50% on 14-28 including 7-13 from deep. The hot hitting didn't carry over to the free throw line where the Tide made only 2 of 5. Bama had 19 rebounds, 10 assists, and nine turnovers in the first half. UNC shot 11-28 for 39%, 4-10 from three point range. and 6-7 from the free throw line. The Heels had 16 rebounds, four assists, five steals, six steals, and seven turnovers.
Gurley replaced Clowney to start the second half with the other four original starters. Miller finally dented the scoreboard by making two free throws with 17:57 left, followed by a three pointer with 17:25 to give the Tide a lead of 46-39. North Carolina was able to take advantage of Bama missing Clowney with their bigs down low. Miller was called for his fourth foul with 16 minutes remaining, leaving the Tide without arguably their two most important players so far this season.
The game see-sawed back and forth before the Tide went cold and UNC went on a 10-0 run to take a lead of 63-55 with just over nine minutes left in regulation. Sears nailed another long jumper to break the streak. Miller returned with 8:57 left, and played the final 29 minutes of the game, without fouling out. Gurley made a three and Quinerly scored at the hole to bring the margin down to 66-63. Miller then scored and Sears buried a long range shot to make it 69-68 Tar Heels with 6:46 left. Gurley tied the game with a three of his own with 4:44 left before Sears continued his torrid day with a three at 3:09 to make the score 75-74 Carolina.
Gurley knocked down two free throws to regain the lead for Bama at 76-75 with 1:52 on the clock, but then threw the ball away with UNC leading 77-76 at 1:15. Carolina missed at the other end and Sears was fouled on the rebound. He made 1-2 to tie the game at 77 with 45 seconds left. Quinerly tried to win the game for the Tide at the end by going one on one, but missed in the lane to send the game to overtime.
The first overtime continued the back and forth with William Shaver and Miller trading two made free throws. Bama made two careless turnovers, one on an inbound pass and were once again unable to make the last shot. Double overtime brought the Tide an early lead on a fantastic move and dunk by Bediako. Quinerly followed with a basket and the Tide looked in control at 85-81 with 3:38 left. Bediako had another dunk to keep Bama up by four. UNC cut the lead to two before Jaden Bradley went strong to the hole and made the lead 89-85 with 2:07 remaining. Bama held a two point lead with 1:07 left but allowed Carolina to tie the game. Quinerly once again dribbled the clock down and missed twice in the last one minute, including with two seconds left.
For the third overtime the Tide began without Bediako on the court, going with a small group of Quinerly, Miller, Gurley, Bradley, and Sears. The Tar Heels took advantage of Bediako resting by scoring six straight points, all in the paint with little resistance. Miller then scored five straight points to cut the lead to 96-94 and there was 2:20 left. With 28 seconds left Quinerly made two clutch free throws to tie the game at 96. Bama forced a turnover, but gave it right back with a throw away on an inbounds play. UNC couldn't get a shot off and the 4th overtime was looming.
Bradley drove and scored and UNC made two free throws for a 98-98 score. Bediako followed a miss with a hoop to five the Tide the 100-98 lead with 1:46 left. Quinerly missed from three and Miller followed it up, but missed the put back. Bediako made another huge basket and Bama held a 102-101 lead with 26 seconds left. On a drive to the basket by North Carolina, Bediako was originally called for goal tending, with Bama gathering the ball after the block. After a review the call was overturned, and the ball was awarded to the Tide because of the possession arrow.
With 9.3 seconds left the Tide turned the ball over on another inbounds play. Carolina returned the favor by throwing the ball to Bediako on their own inbounds play and he quickly passed the ball to Bradley. Bradley made 1 of 2 free throws with four seconds left. Carolina missed a desperation shot at the buzzer and the Tide had the huge win, 103-101.
In the four overtimes the Tide shot 10-29 from the field, 1-7 from three, and 5-6 on free throws. Overall the Tide finished 37-90 for 41% including 16-38 from three for 42% and 13-21 on free throws for 62%. Bama finished with 57 rebounds, six blocks, six steals, 21 assists, and 22 turnovers. UNC finished 38-91 for 42%. 7-23 from deep for 30% and big 18-20 from 90% on free throws. The Heels had 54 rebounds. 10 blocks, 12 steals, 15 assists, and 18 turnovers.
Individually Sears had 24 points on 7-11 from three, with five rebounds and five assists while playing 55 of the 60 minutes. Bediako had the best game of his career with 14 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, four blocks in 44 huge minutes. Quinerly notched 21 points on 8-26 shooting, 3-11 from deep, with eight assists, and six rebounds in 44 minutes. Miller came back to score 14 points on abysmal 4-21 shooting, and had seven rebounds in 48 minutes. Gurley played 42 minutes and had 13 points and six boards. Bradley played his most minutes at 29 and was in double figures with 10 points. Miller and Quinlery combined to shoot 12-47 in the game, while the hot hand, Sears, took only 13 shots.
What a game! The Tide showed a lot of heart to go the distance with a heavyweight like North Carolina without their toughest inside player in Clowney and with Miller unable to gt in a rhythm while fighting foul trouble all night. Both teams had numerous chances to win the game at the end of regulation and all four overtimes. It was like a championship fight and a war of attrition.
The Tide suits up next on December 3rd when the host South Dakota State at 7:30 p.m. CT on a game to be shown on SEC Network Plus. After that comes Houston, Gonzaga, and Jackson State before the SEC season starts.
Blue Collar Basketball