ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Kira Lewis Jr. and Alabama finally found a way to win a close game.
Lewis scored a career-high 37 points, including two free throws in overtime to give Alabama a lead that would stand, and the Crimson Tide beat Georgia 105-102 on Saturday night to end a three-game losing streak.
Alabama (13-10, 5-5 Southeastern Conference) rallied after trailing by 12 points early in the second half. It had been 1-5 in games decided by no more than six points, including losses by four points to Arkansas and one point to Tennessee in its last two games.
“This team is really resilient,” Lewis said. “We came back together after the Tennessee loss and said we’re going to leave it all on the floor every game.”
The explosive Lewis used his speed to cut through the porous Georgia defense for layups, and he made three of four free throws in the extra period.
“It obviously helps having maybe the fastest guard in the country,” said Alabama coach Nate Oats, referring to Lewis.
Oats said his players “showed a lot of character” after the recent close losses.
Georgia (12-11, 2-8) has lost six of its last seven games and has lost double-digit leads in its last three losses. Sahvir Wheeler scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Bulldogs. Rayshaun Hammonds had 20 points.
Lewis sank two free throws with 2:21 remaining in overtime to give Alabama a 98-96 lead. Georgia made only one of its last eight shots from the field in the extra period.
Tye Fagan’s layup for Georgia with 30 seconds remaining in regulation cut Alabama’s lead to 91-90. After Lewis made one of two free throws, Hammonds sank a tying jumper with 21 seconds remaining. Georgia’s Jordan Harris missed a long jumper to force the overtime period.
Alabama led 45-41 at halftime before Georgia, led by Wheeler, opened strong in the second half. Wheeler sank two 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the half, including one in a 9—0 run that gave the Bulldogs a 65-53 lead.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide made 9 of 12 free throws in overtime and 21 of 30 for the game. The 105 points set a school record for a true road game. … John Petty Jr., who made four of six free throws, scored 21 points. … The previous career high for Lewis, a sophomore guard, was 30 points against Penn on Nov. 5. … Javian Davis, who had 13 points, needed help leaving the floor after fouling out late in overtime. He received an IV after the game for what Oats said was a “full body cramp.”
Georgia: In what coach Tom Crean acknowledged is not a new problem, the Bulldogs were hurt by poor defense. Alabama led 45-41 at halftime while taking a 32-22 advantage in points in the paint. When Hammonds was on the floor, his foul trouble only added to Georgia’s weak defense around the basket. “We don’t have that one back-door guy; we just don’t,” Crean said. Georgia attacked the basket in the second half and finished with a 58-56 scoring edge in the paint.
Alabama was 4-2 in the league before losing starter Herbert Jones to a fractured left wrist on Jan. 29. The 6-foot-7 junior, who is out indefinitely, was averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds. Jones, the team’s top defensive player, was injured in the first half of a 90-76 loss at Louisiana State.
Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, who leads the nation’s freshmen in scoring, had only 14 points while weakened by flu-like symptoms. He did not practice on Friday while being treated. Edwards made only 5 of 17 shots. He missed each of his six 3-pointers, including a long attempt at the end of overtime.
“I wasn’t feeling it,” Edwards said of his shot. He said he felt tired by the end of regulation and had no strength in his legs for jump shots. He led Georgia with 12 rebounds. Crean also has been sick.
Georgia: Plays another home game on Wednesday night against South Carolina.
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