The Alabama men's basketball team came out victorious in a back-and-forth battle against Kansas State, 77-74, in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The win gives the Crimson Tide (12-7) its season-best fourth straight victory, eighth straight home win and 10th win in the last 13 games.
Sophomore Kira Lewis Jr. led the team with a stand-out performance, finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a career-best three blocks on the night. It marked his team-leading sixth 20-plus point game of the season.
Joining Lewis in double figures were junior Alex Reese, freshman Jaden Shackelford and junior John Petty Jr. all finished with 11 points on the night, while Herbert Jones added 10.
This year marks the fourth year the Tide has competed in the annual event and now sports a 3-1 record throughout the non-conference matchups.
Kansas State (8-11) was led by Cartier Diarra who finished with 17 points, along with Xavier Sneed who notched 14 points and six rebounds.
Coach Nate Oats Postgame Comments
- "It was good to get a close win. That was the first time we've won when it's been under five points. We need to be in some close games and feel like we can win them. We had to take care of the ball late, hit some free throws late and get some stops late. I'm proud of the guys for that. There's a lot of stuff to learn from the game. The offensive rebounds that we gave up were disastrous and could've cost us the game. We have to clean that up. Turnovers were still too high. If you look, they had 31 more field goal attempts than we did. That's not usually a recipe for winning games. We have to get a lot of stuff cleaned up before the LSU game. At this stage, playing a non-conference game towards the end of January against a good team, a hard-playing team, and they just took care of West Virginia pretty good two games ago. We'll take the win right now and hopefully learn and the guys will be mature enough to know that we have to fix a lot of things, even though we won. I'm proud of the guys for a win but we've got a lot to get fixed before Wednesday."
- The Crimson Tide trailed for 15:37 throughout the match, which is three times as much as they had previously throughout the last three wins – then-No. 4 Auburn, Missouri and Vanderbilt – in which UA trailed for a combined total of 3:14
- The contest featured nine lead changes and eight ties
- Herbert Jones earned his fifth consecutive double-digit scoring game
- The win marked the first time this season that Alabama has won when a game has been decided by six points or fewer this season
- Kansas State dominated the offensive glass with a 22-3 advantage which resulted in a 15-3 edge in second chance points
- The Wildcats owned a 45-33 edge on the boards which marked the largest deficit on the Tide's boards this season and just the sixth time in 19 games it has lost the rebounding battle
- The first five minutes of action were high scoring, as Kansas State got out to an early 12-11 lead at the 14:43 media timeout
- The Wildcats maintained a slim lead, as they held a 25-23 advantage with 8:59 to go in the first half
- With Kansas State in front 30-25 at the 6:21 mark, its largest lead of the game, but the Crimson Tide responded with a 6-0 run to grab a 31-30 lead at the 3:42 mark
- After the teams traded buckets, Kansas State carried a 37-36 lead into the halftime break
- Lewis led the Tide with 13 first half points
- Alabama opened the second half on a 23-6 run, including 14-straight, to take its largest lead at 59-43 at the 12:14 mark
- With UA up 61-48, the Wildcats responded with 10 straight points to trim Alabama's lead to 61-58 with 7:12 remaining
- A big three-pointer by Reese gave Alabama a 69-65 lead with 3:11 to play; he would go on to score nine of his 11 points after intermission
- After two Lewis free throws made it 74-69 Alabama, Kansas State came down and drilled a triple to cut the lead to 74-72 with just 16 seconds remaining
- A Jones free throw with two seconds on the clock gave the Tide a 77-74 lead and Kansas State's heave at the buzzer missed
The Tide will return to action on Wednesday night when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.