In desperate need of a quality road win — or simply a win after dropping three straight coming into the weekend — Alabama’s backcourt tandem of Kira Lewis Jr. and John Petty Jr. delivered in style Saturday.
Lewis scored 25 of his career-high 37 points in the second half and overtime, and Petty produced 6 of his 21 points and two of his seven rebounds in the extra period, to send the visiting Crimson Tide to a rare SEC road victory, 105-102, in overtime Saturday inside Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum.
Alabama (13-10, 5-5 SEC) returned to .500 in conference play and ended its three-game losing streak thanks to an all-around scoring effort, where Lewis’ career night highlighted five Alabama scorers in double figures Saturday.
Along with Lewis and Petty, redshirt freshman Javian Davis added 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds before fouling out with 9.5 seconds left in overtime, while graduate senior guard James “Beetle” Bolden and freshman guard Jaden Shackelford had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, host Georgia (12-11, 2-8 SEC) needed a pair of 20-point games from freshman guard Sahvir Wheeler, who was 3-of-5 from 3-point range, and junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds, while freshman wing and future NBA lottery pick Anthony Edwards was limited to just 14 points while going 0-for-6 from long distance in the game.
After the Bulldogs jumped ahead by double digits with a 24-8 run over the first 5:16 of the second half, the Crimson Tide responded in kind with a 15-2 run to pull back on top, albeit briefly as both teams traded leads over the next several minutes.
That back-and-forth effort continued through the rest of regulation to force overtime, where Lewis and Petty combined to score 11 of Alabama’s 13 points in the extra period, with 9-of-12 coming from the free throw line to seal the win.
Lewis puts Alabama on his back for much-needed victory.
Playing against a potential No. 1 pick in Edwards, it was Alabama’s own potential NBA talent that really put on a show Saturday in Athens.
Lewis was instrumental to Alabama’s second-half comeback after Georgia went ahead by 12, scoring 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting — including a pair of 3s — during Alabama’s 27-12 run over a 6 1/2-minute span to pull back on top, 83-77, with 7:04 left on the back of 5 straight points from Lewis.
The 18-year-old sophomore had an opportunity to secure the win in regulation, but missed the first of a one-and-one opportunity at the free throw line and then turning the ball over with a charge with 2.8 seconds left to force overtime.
Once there, Lewis was once again the key, repeatedly driving to the lane for points, including a layup to tie it at 94-94 41 seconds into the extra period and then nailing 3-of-4 free throws to keep the Tide on top down the stretch.
Along with being a near-certain NBA lottery pick later this spring, Edwards was also one of the SEC’s hottest players of late.
Along with leading all Division I freshmen averaging 19.9 points per game this season, Edwards had averaged 28.0 points and 10.3 rebounds over his previous three outings.
But that changed Saturday against Herbert Jones-less Alabama, which used Petty Jr. — its second-best defender — to limit Edwards to just four first-half points on 2-of-6 shooting.
Alabama has struggled plenty on the offensive boards this season, and that didn’t end Saturday.
Georgia won the overall rebounding battle, 42-37, but was especially strong on the offensive end, turning 14 offensive rebounds into a 24-11 advantage in second-chance points.
Those putback opportunities were key to the Bulldogs’ second-half surge to force overtime, as Georgia doubled up Alabama 18-9 in second-chance points with an 8-4 advantage in offensive rebounds in the second half alone.