Alabama 81, South Carolina 78: No. 11 Crimson Tide basketball holds on for a road win

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

No. 11 Alabama (16-5, 11-1 SEC) survived a late drought to hold off South Carolina 81-78 ,taking a key SEC road game in Columbia, S.C.

Alabama had no field goals in the final four minutes after building an eight-point lead but managed to hang on. John Petty led Alabama with 20 points. 

South Carolina fell to 5-8, 3-6 in league play.

Herb Jones played but was limited by sore back 

Alabama forward Herb Jones, who has been playing through a back injury, was evaluated prior to the game and deemed able to play, though he continued to look less than 100 percent.

Jones scored three points in 29 minutes before fouling out with 3:22 to play. He added seven assists and five rebounds, turning the ball over four times.  

Feb 9, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide forward Juwan Gary (4) drives to the basket against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Slow start again for Tide

For a second straight game, Alabama started slowly.

South Carolina had a 16-5 lead after five minutes as the Crimson Tide struggled with five early turnovers. Unlike the Missouri game, the Crimson Tide righted itself in the first half thanks largely to offensive rebounding. Both John Petty Jr. and Alex Reese had three offensive rebounds in the half, as Alabama built a 14-2 edge on second-chance points.

Alabama also had solid 3-point shooting, including two wide-open shots, one by Petty and one by Jahvon Quinerly, when the Gamecocks did not guard the shooter on an inbounds pass.

Gary gets start, then quick injury

Juwan Gary, who has been a spark for Alabama in the paint in the last three games, was rewarded with his first career start. It was a brief appearance, however. Gary was knocked to the floor in a collision with (or hip-toss by) South Carolina’s Wildens Leveque, injuring his shoulder.

Gary was unable to return, further depleting Alabama’s interior defense, which was already missing center Jordan Bruner (knee.) Gary’s long-term prognosis was not immediately known.