Alabama Men’s Basketball Completes Comeback Against Tennessee, 63-57
The Alabama men’s basketball team used a 16-2 run over the final four minutes and finished with an improbable 63-57 victory over Tennessee on Tuesday night in Coleman Coliseum. The Tide trailed 48-33 with 13:54 left, but outscored the Volunteers 30-9 the rest of the way to snap a three-game losing streak.
Senior Retin Obasohan finished with a game-high 22 points, while junior Shannon Hale added a season-high 20 points en route to the victory. It marked the first time that two Alabama players finished with 20-plus points in a game since Justin Coleman (22) and Ricky Tarrant (20) accomplished the feat at Arkansas just over a year ago on Jan. 22, 2015.
“I am really excited for our guys,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We got off to a very slow start in the game. It was somewhat of a hangover from our last game. I didn’t scream at them in the first timeout, I thought I needed to love them up because we have a team with a lot of character. I am proud of our guys, how we finished the first half and obviously, I am proud of how we finished the game. Fortunately, they missed some shots. They are a well-coached team. I love coach [Rick] Barnes, but I am just really happy for our guys. It has been a rough couple of days. We had a very, very hard practice yesterday and they carried over into today’s game. We were mentally and physically tough and focused for a good part of the game. It is exciting that we got a win. I may sound like worn out record to a lot of you guys, but thank you again to our students for showing up tonight in bad weather. The student section was packed and rocking tonight, so thank you, thank you thank you.”
The Tide (11-8, 2-5 SEC) got off to a rough start, scoring just four points in the first 10 minutes of the game, which allowed the Volunteers to take a 16-4 lead. However, Alabama ended the half on a 14-6 run to pull within one point at the break, 25-24. The Tide overcame a first half that featured 11 turnovers and just 18 percent shooting (2-of-11) from beyond the arc.
Alabama immediately scored out of the break, but Tennessee (10-10, 3-5 SEC) used a 21-5 run over the next 4:52 to take a commanding 48-33 lead with 13:54 remaining in the contest. But that’s when the tide turned as Hale scored 10 straight points for a 10-0 Alabama run to pull Alabama within five points. After a Tennessee timeout, the momentum continued when Obasohan scored consecutive buckets, the last coming in the form of an electric dunk that sent the 11,429 fans into a frenzy. The 14-0 run pulled Alabama within one point, 48-47.
After the Tide had a couple of chances to take the lead, Tennessee, which was 0-of-12 from the field during the run, answered with a 7-0 push of its own to take a 55-47 lead with 4:16 left.
But the Tide showed resiliency as it finished the game on 16-2 run to result in the final score. Graduate senior Arthur Edwards gave his team the lead for good on a three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining. The Alabama defense then held, and Obasohan finished the game with an and-1, converting a layup and the ensuing free throw.
Alabama won the rebounding battle, 42-38, and is now 6-1 this season when outrebounded opponents. The Tide set a season high from the free throw line, shooting 85 percent for the game. After going 2-of-2 in the first half, Alabama was 9-for-11 from the charity stripe in the second frame and finished 11-of-13 for the contest.
Obasohan’s 22 points marked his third straight and eighth overall 20-point game of the season – each coming over the Tide’s last 13 games. Hale not only recorded a season high in points, but his eight boards and two steals were also personal bests this year. Sophomore Riley Norris finished with a career-high 13 rebounds and three steals to go along with six points.
Kevin Punter led the Volunteers with 15 points while Robert Hubbs III scored 13. Armani Moore finished with 11 rebounds.
Next up, Alabama heads to South Carolina to take on the 20th-ranked Gamecocks on Saturday, Jan. 30. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT with the game airing on SEC Network.