For a second straight home game, the University of Alabama men’s basketball team watched a large first-half lead turn into cliff-hanging suspense at the end.
This time, the Crimson Tide held onto the cliff. Thanks to five clutch points from freshman Kira Lewis in the final 12.5 seconds, Alabama held on for a 76-73 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday.
Alabama had a 19-point lead (33-14) with seven minutes remaining in the first half but Arizona gradually whittled that away, regaining a one-point lead midway through the second half.
With 3:11 to play, Arizona’s Chase Jeter tied the score at 64-64 but instead of wilting, the Crimson Tide got crucial plays from Donta Hall, who scored on a thundering putback dunk and a goaltending call to put Alabama ahead 68-64.
The Wildcats again made it a two-point game with 1:12 remaining but Alabama, aided by a Mack rebound that lengthened the possession, got the game’s crucial basket from Lewis, a step-back 3-pointer to make it 73-68 with 12.5 second remaining.
“He’s a killer,” Mack said succinctly when asked about his freshman teammate.
Lewis and John Petty combined for three late free throws as Alabama held on to put its record at 6-3, snapping a two-game losing streak.
“I was really proud of our guys,” said Alabama coach Avery Johnson. “Obviously, Arizona was going to come back. They have very good players. We weren’t going to drop our head. This was a fight to the very end, like Deontay Wilder. This looked like a much better Alabama basketball team today.
“We let them back in it with some turnovers, but we didn’t quit.”
Lewis led all scorers in the game with 20 points. Sophomore forward Alex Reese came off the Alabama bench with a 15-point, eight-rebound effort. Hall added 13 and Mack scored 12 for the Crimson Tide.
Jeter had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead Arizona. Wildcat guard Justin Coleman, returning to Tuscaloosa for the first time since his 2016 transfer, had eight points and six assists for the Wildcats.
DAZON INGRAM, who started at guard for the Crimson Tide, suffered a back contusion in a scramble for a loose ball early in the second half. He also had back spasms as a result of the injury and will be evaluated by UA medical personnel on Monday.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.