Alabama was without forward Michael Kessens, who was out with a bruised kne, and in the first half forward Shannon Hale suffered a foot injury and was unable to return. Only six men played for Bama in the second half and only eight for the game, including walk-on Dakota Slaughter getting a few minutes in the first half.
The Tide got balanced scoring from Levi Randolph with 17 points (and 6 rebounds and 5 assists), Retin Obasohan with 15 (12 in the second half), and Rodney Cooper with 11 (all in the second half). Jimmie Taylor had 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots and played well on defense and Riley Norris took over for Hale in the second half and finished with 8 points and a team-high 7 rebounds.
Alabama improved to 17-11 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference play. South Carolina fell to 13-14 overall, 4-11 in league games.
Alabama heads to Nashville Saturday to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tipoff will be at 3 p.m. CST with television coverage on ESPNU. Vandy was a 76-68 winner over the Tide in Tuscaloosa Feb. 14.
Alabama had a strong shooting game, 21-41 from the field for 50 per cent, 6-19 on three-point tries (31.6 per cent), and 11-16 free throws (68.8 per cent, including 10-12 in the second half). South Carolina was 19-55 for the game, 34.5 per cent, 7-30 on three-pointers (23.3 per cent), and 6-8 on free throws (75 per cent).
As had been the case in Columbia early in the year when the Gamecocks took a 68-66 win over the Tide, South Carolina out-rebounded Bama by 10, 36-26. That resulted in SC having a 22-8 advantage in second chance points. But Bama had a 22-20 edge on points in the paint. Alabama had 11 turnovers, the Gamecocks scoring 15 points off them, South Carolina 13 turnovers, resulting in 11 Bama points.
South Carolina was led by Laimonas Chatkevicius with 18 points and 9 rebounds and Duane Notice with 16 points (making 4-11 three-pointers). Sindarius Thornwell scored only 4 points as he was 0-8 on treys.
Alabama outscored the Gamecocks by 37-29 after both teams scored an anemic 22 first half points. Both teams scored 22 in the second half by the 8:30 mark.
After that 22-22 halftime, South Carolina started with a three-pointer by Notice and had the lead or a tie for the first five minutes of the second half. Taylor got a slam from Norris to tie the game at 31, and in short order Cooper had a follow-up dunk and a three-pointer to put Bama up by five. Alabama would not lose the lead the rest of the way.
A Taylor dunk gave Bama an eight-point lead at 41-33 with 12:55 to play, a lead that would not be matched until the final score. After Taylor got his fourth foul, the Gamecocks went inside and pulled to within a point (50-49) on a three-pointer by Michael Carrera with five minutes to play. It was the fifth – and final – three-pointer by the Gamecocks in the second half.
Bama ran off six straight points on a jumper by Randolph and free throws by Cooper and Obasohan and coasted the last couple of minutes.
What do 0-0, 20-20, and 22-22 have in common? Those were the first half scores in which Alabama was closest to having the lead. It was 22-22 at halftime after South Carolina had led for 18:12 of the 20 minutes.
The Gamecocks took a 6-0 lead before Bama had a shot hit the rim with South Carolina’s Tyrone Johnson hitting a pair of three-pointers in the first 1:12. Those were his only points of the game.
Both teams hit seven field goals and both had two three-pointers. The difference was that South Carolina hit both of its free throw attempts and the Tide continued its foul line misery from the previous game, making only 1-4 (all taken by Riley Norris).
As had been Bama Coach Anthony Grant’s fear, the Gamecocks were dominant on the backboards in the first half with a 17-10 rebound advantage, 9 offensive boards, and (as a result) an advantage of 13-2 in second chance points.
TIDE NOTES: Alabama had the same starting lineup for the fourth conseutive game: point guard Retin Obasohan, guard Levi Randolph, wing Rodney Cooper, forward Shannon Hale, and center Jimmie Taylor.
Bama forward Michael Kessens was held out of the game because of a bone bruise in his left knee. This was the eighth consecutive game that Tide guard Ricky Tarrant has been out with an undisclosed injury.
Shannon Hale did not play in the second half because of a foot injury suffered in the first half. He had not scored and had one rebound in the first half.
Speaking of feet: when Jimmie Taylor (6-10) picked up his fourth foul with over 12 minutes to play, he was replaced by Justin Coleman (5-10, maybe), meaning Bama gave up a foot.
Listed attendance was 8,848, but it was nothing close to that…probably nothing close to half that.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant and South Carolina Coach Frank Martin were high school teammates at Miami Senior High School.