CHARLESTON, S.C. | The University of Alabama men’s basketball team used career-high scoring from freshman Kira Lewis and reserve Alex Reese, along with outstanding foul shooting, to hold off Wichita State for a 90-86 win in the consolation bracket of the Charleston Classic.
The Crimson Tide lost all of a 12-point halftime lead as Wichita State tied the game at 69-69 on Dexter Dennis’ 3-point basket with 7:09 to play. Lewis answered with a 3-pointer one minute later, giving UA a lead it never relinquished. Alabama maintained that edge thanks to 13-of-14 free throw shooting in the final four minutes. For the game, Alabama was 31 of 33 from the line.
“We’ve always said that we don’t want to be just front-runners, we want to handle adversity,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “Well, we did jump out front today but then we faced adversity. Give credit to Wichita State. They are a tough team, fiercely competitive. But we had tremendous contributions across the board and Alex Reese had his best game, which was perfect timing.”
Reese, who played just nine minutes against Northeastern and three minutes against Ball State in the tournament’s first two rounds and did not score in either game, poured in a career-high 19 points in 15 minutes on Sunday.
“Coach Avery is really hard on Alex because I expect so much from him,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to lower our expectations. We recruited him for a reason. You saw that (reason) today. Now the question is whether we can get that out of him consistently.”
Alabama got off to a fast start, leading by as many as 13 points in the first half. Wichita State gradually trimmed that lead but, aside from the lone tie, could not come all the way back.
In addition to Lewis, who poured in 24 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and a perfect 11-for-11 performance from the line, and Reese, Alabama had two other scorers in double figures as Herb Jones and John Petty each scored 13 points. Dazon Ingram came off the bench to score eight points and added a team-high five assists.
Markis McDuffie led Wichita State (2-3) with 26 points.
Alabama (4-1) will take a brief Thanksgiving break and will return to action on Nov. 26 with a home game against Murray State.