Alabama freshman guard Kira Lewis has made clutch shots for his team. He has made important passes.

What no one expected on Tuesday night was for Lewis to show off his shot-blocking prowess with the game in the balance.

Lewis blocked a potential game-tying 3-point try by Mississippi State’s Tyson Carter with 29 seconds remaining and Alabama made enough free throws in the last minute to hold off No. 22 Mississippi State 83-79 at Coleman Coliseum.

“Yes, we had some malfunctions but give them credit,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “Then give us some credit for keeping our poise.

“The play by Kira was big. It’s a screen action that Carter has hurt us on before. We actually showed that play to them in our shootaround, where we had gotten hung up on the screen. So credit to Kira for not giving up on the play.”

The Crimson Tide appeared to be in good shape when Donta Hall’s dunk with 4:01 remaining gave UA an 11-point lead (74-63) but Mississippi State answered with a 12-4 run. A traveling call against the Crimson Tide’s Dazon Ingram gave MSU the ball with 40 seconds remaining.

The ball went to Carter but Lewis swooped in for the block. Hall grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws as Alabama (13-7, 4-3 SEC) held on.

Mississippi State trailed 40-29 at the half although the biggest blow to the Bulldogs came when senior star Nick Witherspoon came down awkwardly on a dunk attempt and suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game.

“When he landed on that, you could see that it sort of buckled,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. “We are concerned. The Alabama doctors did not feel like it was his ACL, but he may have injured his patella.”

Despite the loss of  Weatherspoon, MSU cut into the Crimson Tide’s halftime lead quickly. UA then rebuilt that advantage until State’s second run led to the dramatic final minutes.

Ten different players scored for Alabama, even though the Crimson Tide made just one of its 16 3-point attempts. Hall led the way with 19 points, while two players — John Petty (13 points) and Riley Norris (11) — came off the bench to score in double figures.

Freshman Reggie Perry scores 18 points to lead Mississippi State (15-5, 3-4 SEC).

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

 


 

SCORING SUMMARY
Alabama 83, No. 22 Mississippi State 79
Mississippi State (15-5)
Holman 5-11 1-3 12, Ado 0-0 3-5 3, N.Weatherspoon 3-6 1-2 7, Peters 6-19 2-2 14, Q.Weatherspoon 6-13 1-2 14, Perry 9-12 0-2 18, Feazell 0-0 0-0 0, Woodard 2-4 2-4 7, Carter 1-6 2-2 4. Totals 32-71 12-22 79.

Alabama (13-7)
Hall 7-9 5-9 19, Jones 3-5 2-5 8, Lewis 4-9 1-2 9, Ingram 2-4 3-4 7, Mack 3-7 0-2 6, Reese 0-0 1-3 1, Smith 3-6 1-1 7, Petty 4-9 4-4 13, A.Johnson 1-5 0-0 2, Norris 3-7 5-6 11. Totals 30-61 22-36 83.

Halftime: Alabama 41-29. 3-Point Goals: Mississippi St. 3-19 (Holman 1-1, Woodard 1-2, Q.Weatherspoon 1-6, N.Weatherspoon 0-1, Perry 0-1, Carter 0-2, Peters 0-6), Alabama 1-15 (Petty 1-4, Mack 0-2, Lewis 0-2, A.Johnson 0-3, Norris 0-4). Fouled Out: Carter. Rebounds: Mississippi St. 40 (Holman 8), Alabama 37 (Mack 8). Assists: Mississippi St. 10 (Peters 4), Alabama 11 (Lewis 3). Total Fouls: Mississippi St. 25, Alabama 19.

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