TUSCALOOSA The Georgia State Panthers came to Tuscaloosa, picked up a check, won a basketball game and left disarray in their wake.
Alabama, leading by 22 points with 14:34 to play, watched every bit of that substantial lead slip away and lost 83-80 as Georgia State’s Malik Benlevi hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday night
Alabama head coach Avery Johnson called it “a bad, bad loss.”
“I’m the coach, I’m the one responsible. Not the players. Me. I didn’t sense the focus at halftime and I was very concerned. But that is my responsibility.
“So this is a tough loss. You can’t lose games like this at home when you are trying to build a resume.
“We got off to a really good start. (We) shot the ball well, had great ball movement, kept (GSU guard D’Marcus) Simonds under control. But that all went away in the second half.”
Alabama led 61-39 with 14:34 to play but the Panthers kept scoring during a long shooting drought by the Crimson Tide. The lead was still at 15 points, 67-52, with nine minutes to play but Georgia State went on a 15-2 run to make it a one-possession game with five minutes to play.
Georgia State (6-3) tied the game with 1:35 to play on a layup and free throw by Simonds, who led all scorers with 23 points. Alabama missed a pair of 3-pointers on its next possession and Simonds scored again to give GSU an 80-78 lead. Dazon Ingram hit a game-tying layup with 24 seconds remaining but Georgia State worked the ball to Benlevi for the buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
“We are a confident team,” said Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter. “We expected to win. But it’s tough for a mid-major on the road. This is our second Power Five win of the season (after beating Georgia last month) a s that’s the first time in school history we’ve done that. So it’s a big deal for us.”
Alabama (5-3) shot just 7-of-24 from the floor in the second half and harmed its own cause by making just three of eight free throws in the final five minutes.
UA led 52-31 at intermission.
Kira Lewis Jr. led Alabama with 19 points, scoring 16 of those in the first half. Ingram added 17 while Hall had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 295-722-0225.