Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

No. 24 Alabama men’s basketball survives Georgia after second-half surge

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama guard Mark Sears (1) in action on offense at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA on Wednesday, Jan 31, 2024.

As the sun set over Athens on Wednesday night, students from the University of Georgia lined up outside of Stegeman Coliseum with a thirst for revenge, waiting for a chance to see their Bulldogs take on the Crimson Tide on the hardwood.  

The last time these two schools competed athletically, Alabama football brought home a conference championship, and the Bulldogs were left heartbroken and stripped of their spot in the College Football Playoff.  

With Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart sitting courtside and thousands of fans barking their hearts out, it was one of the most hostile environments the Crimson Tide has seen this season.  

Despite the tough atmosphere and an even tougher start, Alabama men’s basketball delivered another heartbreak to the Georgia faithful, as the Crimson Tide left Athens with an 85-76 victory.   

The Crimson Tide came into its matchup after a very successful week in which it won both games at home, upsetting No. 8 Auburn and earning a spot in the top 25 for the first time since Nov. 27.  

Alabama was unable to channel this momentum to start Wednesday’s contest, as the first half went about as badly as it could have for the Crimson Tide.  

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-2 lead while Alabama struggled to score a single basket. The Crimson Tide shot just 1-8 from the field to start and after 10 attempts made its first shot from long range.   

Georgia also dominated the boards, outrebounding Alabama 27-7 in the first half. Georgia had 11 offensive rebounds alone, leading to 12 second-chance points.  

The Bulldogs held the Crimson Tide to its lowest first-half scoring total all season, as Alabama trailed 27-41 heading into the locker room.  

It looked like Georgia would hold the Crimson Tide off to win its 12th home game of the season, which would have been the most of any team in the SEC so far this year.  

But as the second half began, Alabama returned to form, looking much more like one of the best offensive teams in the nation.  

After fighting back for much of the half, Alabama claimed its first lead of the contest with just under five minutes remaining.  

“We’ve been here before,” guard Mark Sears said of the rough first half. “But this time was a lot different. We showed a lot of resilience.” 

The Crimson Tide shot 6-12 from long range in the second half after going 2-11 in the first. Alabama also went 12-15 from the free-throw line after going a measly 1-4 in the first half.  

Three Alabama players scored at least 10 points in the second half, with Sears scoring 12 of his 23 in the final six minutes.  

Sears, fresh off receiving his second SEC Player of the Week award this season, has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games and currently leads the SEC in points per game with an average of 20.  

Forward Grant Nelson, who has struggled offensively in many games this season, had his best half of basketball this season, scoring 14 of his 20 points, including back-to-back 3s to help put the game out of reach.  

“Those two [3-pointers] he took at the end of the game were huge for us, they sealed the game,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “He showed that he’s a winner. He showed that the moment doesn’t get too big for him, and he doesn’t shy away from it.”  

Alabama ended up outscoring the Bulldogs 58-35 in the second half, as Georgia went 0-4 from long range after shooting 7-12 in the first half.  

The Crimson Tide also won the rebounding battle in the second half, grabbing 19 rebounds compared with Georgia’s 12.  

“I can’t say enough about our guys in the second half,” Oats said. “They showed some fight, and they showed what they’re about.”  

After winning its seventh game of conference play, Alabama will look to defend its spot at the top of the SEC when it hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.  

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