Alabama Holds on to Take Down Georgia
Alabama traveled to Athens to take on Georgia and emerged victorious 89-79 to finish out the regular season. The Crimson Tide had five players in double figures, with most of the scoring damage coming in the second half.
Alabama (21-6, 14-11 SEC) got off to yet another slow start. They finished with 22 turnovers, 12 of which came in the first half. Alabama shot 2-12 from deep in the first half and were down 29-15 with eight minutes left in the half.
"I thought the guys weren't ready to play," head coach Nate Oats said. "Georgia came ready to play."
The Tide turned it around after the eight minute mark. They finished on a 15-7 run to end the first half, trailing 36-30 going into the break. Alabama started the second half extremely hot, going on a 15-2 run. Transition scoring and knocking down open threes began to make the difference for 'Bama. Once the Tide gained the lead, they never gave it back shooting 8-10 from three in the second half.
"I told the guys we need to turn that half into a whole game," Oats said.
Jahvon Quinerly lead the Crimson Tide in scoring with 18 points off the bench, all in the second half. John Petty Jr. added 15 points, and he kept Alabama in the game early on.
Georgia (14-11, 7-11 SEC) hung in the game the whole way because of the effort from guard Sahvir Wheeler. Wheeler had 18 points and 10 assists in the losing effort, shooting very well in traffic.
Junior guard Keon Ellis stepped up when it mattered most. With a three-point lead and a little over a minute left, he stepped into a 3-pointer off a Quinerly assist and knocked it down to put Alabama up six. That was the dagger, taking the score to 85-79 and forcing Georgia to foul.
"That was a big shot," Oats said. "We had 33 points off the bench tonight."
It was encouraging to see Alabama battle back and correct problems at the half. Even when the Crimson Tide's high-powered offense is not in sync, they force the opponent to make tough shots and win with defense. They have not been playing their best basketball lately, but they continue to find ways to win.
"16-2 in the SEC shows a lot about what this team is made of," Oats said.
The momentum from the huge second half will carry Alabama into the SEC tournament next Friday as they take on the winner of the Kentucky/Mississippi State matchup.