Alabama Prevails Over Arizona in a Closely Fought Contest Down, 76-73
The Alabama men's basketball team prevailed over Arizona, 76-73, Sunday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide (6-3) used a strong first half with clutch plays down the stretch to outlast Arizona (7-3).
Four Alabama players scored in double digits in the winning effort. Freshman Kira Lewis Jr. led the Tide with 20 points, including knocking down 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Senior Donta Hall recorded 13 points and nine rebounds in the contest. Sophomore Alex Reese poured in 15 points off the bench, with Tevin Mack added 12 points of his own.
“I am really proud of our guys,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “It was a terrific bounce back victory which really exemplified the character of our team. I don’t know if a lot of teams can come back and win after such a disappointing second half that we had in our last game at home. Give our guys credit, they were subjected to some really hard practices over the last couple of days and they responded.
“Arizona was going to come back, they are a really good team and have some very good players who know what they’re doing on the floor. They came back on us in the second half because we turned the ball over and didn’t get shots at the basket as well as gave up some easy opportunities. But we held them off. We still got some work to do, we still have to continue to improve, but I’m really happy with our perseverance, tenacity and competitive spirit today in this game.”
The Crimson Tide used a combination of quick scoring and lockdown defense to start the game. Over a 7:24 stretch in the first half, Alabama went on a 23-2 run to take its largest lead of the game of 19, 33-14, with 7:05 left in the half. During one part of the run. Alabama hit nine of 10 field goals. The Crimson Tide ended the first half leading 39-30.
Both teams battled back and forth after the intermission, as the game featured four ties and five lead changes over the final 20 minutes of play.
Arizona used a 9-0 run in 1:59 to take a two-point lead, 55-53, with 9:55 left in the half. However, Lewis drilled a three-pointer from the corner to put the Tide back ahead. After a layup by the Wildcats’ Justin Coleman momentarily game his team the lead, Hall converted a layup with just over nine minutes remaining that gave Alabama the lead for good.
With the game still in doubt and the score tied at 64-64 with 3:10 left, Hall’s put back slam after a Lewis missed lay up gave UA a two-point cushion. Following a defensive stop, Hall then took it strong to the hole and converted while being fouled to give the Tide a two-possession cushion.
After trading points and with the Tide clinging to a 70-68 lead with only 13 seconds remaining, Lewis rose up and knocked down a crucial three-pointer.
Alabama will take on Liberty in the Rocket City Classic in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The contest will tip at 7 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network+.