Alabama Men’s Basketball Upsets No. 19 South Carolina, 90-86, in 4OT Thriller
Sophomore guard Avery Johnson Jr. registered a career-high 23 points to lead the Alabama men’s basketball team to an upset 90-86 victory over No. 19 South Carolina on Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena. It was the Crimson Tide’s first victory over a top-25 team in a true road contest since Feb. 21, 2004 in a 68-63 win at then-No. 21 Mississippi State.
In addition, Tuesday night’s thriller was just the second quadruple overtime contest that Alabama has played in program history. The only other such game came on Feb. 12, 1972 when the Tide defeated LSU, 103-99.
Alabama had three players finish in double figures led by Johnson’s career-high scoring output. Juniors Ar’Mond Davis came off the bench to score a career-best 19 points, while junior Riley Norris collected his third career double-double and his first this season with 11 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.
The Tide got off to a strong start to begin the first half, as it held a 10-2 lead going into the first media timeout. Alabama went on to stretch the lead to 17-5 with 11:25 on the clock, before going on to hold a 13-point lead, 23-10, with 7:36 left in the half. Alabama finished the half strong and took 32-16 lead headed into halftime.
Alabama shot 41 percent from the field in the first half, while limiting South Carolina to just 10 percent. Defense was the narrative for the Tide in the first half, as it held the Gamecocks to 3-of-30 from the field, including a 0-17 drought over the final 10 minutes of the first half.
The Tide went on to lead by as many as 13 points in the second half, 37-24, with just under 16 minutes to play in regulation. South Carolina used a 14-9 run to cut the Alabama lead to eight points, 46-38, at the midway point of the second half. Both teams exchanged buckets from that point on, as the Tide led by nine points at 55-46 with 3:12 left in the contest.
However, that’s when South Carolina began its comeback. The Gamecocks scored seven straight points to cut Alabama’s lead to two points at 55-53 with 47 seconds remaining in the contest. Senior Shannon Hale and Davis recorded a made free-throw each, and South Carolina went on to score four more points to tie the score at 57-57 with eight seconds left in regulation. Johnson got the last look in regulation from the top of the key, but the shot fell just short as both teams went into overtime tied at 57-57.
Both teams traded baskets back-and-forth to start the first overtime, as the score was tied at 61-61 with 2:58 on the clock. The score was tied at 63-63 with 1:40 left in overtime, and it remained tied with 16 seconds left when Alabama called a timeout. Davis got a chance at the last shot of the first overtime from the short corner, but the shot fell short resulting in a second overtime.
South Carolina got off to a solid start in the second overtime, as it scored the first seven points to take a 70-63 lead with 2:35 on the clock. However, the Tide answered with eight straight, capped by a steal and layup from Johnson to take a one-point lead at 71-70 with 42 second remaining. Thornwell drove the lane for bucket to give South Carolina a 72-71 lead, before Johnson Jr. drilled another three-pointer in the corner to give the Tide a 74-72 lead with 19 seconds left to play. Thornwell arose to occasion again, as he took the ball to the rack to tie the score at 74-74 with four second on the clock.
The Tide began the third overtime by scoring the first first four points of the third overtime to take earn a 78-74 advantage, including a dunk from senior Jimmie Taylor and a jumper from senior Corban Collins. Collins hit a free-throw to give the Tide a five-point lead at 79-74, before South Carolina converted a three-point play to cut the Alabama lead to 79-77. Davis stroked another shot from beyond the arc to extend the lead to 82-77, but the Gamecocks responded with a three-pointer and a pair of made free-throws to knot the score at 82-82 with 23 seconds left to play. Alabama had the ball with the clock winding down, but it was unable to convert resulting in a fourth overtime.
The fourth and final overtime began when South Carolina and Alabama swapped baskets through the first two minutes. Norris went knocked down four consecutive free-throws, while the Tide was able to get defensive stops and earn the hard-fought victory.
South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell had a huge game, finishing the night with 44 points and 21 rebounds in 56 minutes of action. Thornwell went just 9-of-25 from the field but connected on 25-of-33 free throws. He was joined in double figures by PJ Dozier, who ended the night with 21 points.
The Tide bench outscored the Gamecock bench by a 56-5 margin in the 60 minute contest, and it won the rebounding battle by a 61-52 margin. Alabama shot 42 percent from the field on the night, while shooting 30 percent from beyond the arc.
The Tide will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 11, when it hosts 15th-ranked Kentucky at Coleman Coliseum in a game that is set to broadcast on CBS at noon CT.