It took the equivalent of a game and a half to do it, but Alabama ended a two-game losing streak with a 90-86 four overtime victory over 19th-ranked South Carolina in Columbia Tuesday.
Riley Norris made four consecutive free throws to seal the victory for Alabama as the junior forward made 6 of his 11 points in the fourth overtime, including the go-ahead foul shots with 56 seconds to play and two to ice it with 18 seconds left.
South Carolina could hardly complain about Bama having a few free throw opportunities. The Gamecocks’ Sindarius Thornwell had 44 points with 25 of them coming from the foul line. He was 25-33 while Alabama’s entire team was 22-33. As a team, the Gamecocks made 35-50 foul shots. Thornwell also had 21 rebounds, but hit only 9-25 field goals and only 1-7 on three-pointers.
The win came by the hardest. Alabama had a 17-point lead in the first half, a 32-16 halftime margin, and a 12-point advantage with under five minutes to play, but watched it dwindle to nothing on a Thornwell jumper that tied it at 63-63 with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. South Carolina’s only lead in gthe game until overtime was at 2-0.
Bama then had potential game-winning possessions at the end of regulation and at the end of the first three overtimes.
Alabama had three players finish in double figures led by sophomore Avery Johnson Jr.’s 23 points. Juniors Ar’Mond Davis and Norris collected 19 and 11 points, respectively. Norris also recorded a double-double, as he registered a season-high 14 rebounds. Johnson and Davis had Bama career highs in scoring.
Alabama hit 30-71 field goals, 42.3 per cent, including 8-27 on three-point tries, 29.6 per cent. South Carolina hit only 23-88 field goal attempts, 26.1 per cent, and only 5-31 on three-pointers, 16.1 per cent.
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. But the Gamecocks had a 23-7 advantage on second chance points. Alabama survived 24 turnovers, the Gamecocks scoring 18 points off Tide errors, while Bama scored 16 points off 14 South Carolina turnovers. Alabama won the battle of points in the paint, 44-34, and fast break points, 17-5.
Three Tiders – guards Dazon Ingram and Braxton Key and center Jimmie Taylor – fouled out of the game.
Bama improved to 14-9 overall and 7-4 in Southeastern Conference play with its fourth SEC road win of the season. South Carolina, which came into the game leading the league by a game, fell back into a three-way tie for first in the conference with Florida and Kentucky. The Gamecocks are 19-5 overall and 9-2 in the SEC.
Bama was coming off back-to-back losses, at Arkansas and home to Auburn. The Gamecocks had won four in a row.
Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum Saturday hosting sixth-ranked Kentucky. Tipoff is at Noon CST with CBS televising the game.
The game was tied 63-63 at the end of the first 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 rose to occasion again, as he to drove to score tie the score at 74-74 with five seconds to play.
The Tide began the third overtime by scoring the first first four points 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 was unable to get a final shot to fall.
The fourth and final overtime began when South Carolina and Alabama swapped baskets through the first two minutes. Norris then knocked down four consecutive free-throws, while the Tide was able to get defensive stops and earn the victory.
TIDE NOTES: It was the first quadruple overtime contest that the Tide has competed in since defeating LSU, 103-99, on Feb. 12, 1972.
Alabama senior forward Shannon Hale had not played in four games owing to injury and had not scored in the last eight, but played 20 minutes and had 6 points (all free throws) and 6 rebounds against South Carolina.
The four overtime game started at 6:30 p.m. EST (5:30 central time) and ended three hours and 15 minutes later.
It was the first time Alabama had beaten a top 25 team in a true road game since Feb. 21, 2004, when the Tide upended then-No. 4 Mississippi State, 77-73, in Starkville.
Bama Coach Avery Johnson is now 5-5 in his two years in games against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 25.
With 25 made free throws, South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell broke the SEC record of 21, held by LSU great Pete Maravich.