But in Athens Tuesday night, Alabama scored nine consecutive points in the final three minutes and went on to a 52-45 win over the Bulldogs.
Bama has won eight of its last 10 games. Alabama improved to 16-8 overall and 8-3 in the Southeastern Conference, which is tied with Kentucky (a team Bama defeated) for second place in the league. Georgia fell to 12-12 overall and 6-5 in the conference.
Alabama returns to Coleman Coliseum Saturday, hosting South Carolina in a game that tips off at 3 p.m. CST.
In a very slow second half, the Tide had lost the lead for the first time since the first half when Georgia slammed home a putback for a 41-40 lead with under three minutes to play. From there, the Tide went on a 9-0 run to put the game away. Levi Randolph started it with a three-pointer, followed a minute later by a Rodney Cooper three-pointer. Randolph made two free throws for a 48-41 lead and Trevor Randolph hit one of two free throws to complete the 9-0 run with just 35.4 seconds to play.
Alabama played much of the game in zone defense in holding Georgia to only 45 points. Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said that he had planned to play some zone against the Bulldogs because he thought it would be effective.
Alabama held Georgia to only 30.8 per cent shooting (16-52) from the field and only 5-22 on three point shots (22.7 per cent). Bama was only slightly better, but the Tide was better. Alabama made 19-49 from the field (38.8 per cent) and 6-18 (33.3 per cent) on three-pointers. Both teams were 8-14 on free throws Georgia had the advantage in rebounding, 41-33, one reason Georgia enjoyed a 16-2 advantage on second chance points. Alabama, though, outscored the Dogs by 22-18 on points in the paint.
Grant said, “We made enough shots in the second half and the defense was outstanding.”
The Tide coach said the plan for his team was to “play it to the end,” and the result was “a quality road win.”
Rodney Cooper was the only Tider in double figures, getting 14 points. Trevor Releford had nine points, but only two assists. Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph had eight points each and Randolph led the Tide with seven rebounds. Moussa Gueye didn’t score, but had four of the Tide’s six blocked shots and also had five rebounds.
As is almost always the case for Georgia, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope led the Bulldogs in scoring with 22 points. Georgia’s Nemi Djurisic was tough for Alabama to handle in first half as he had 11 points. He finished, however, with only 12.
Rodney Cooper was all the offense Alabama had to start the second half. He had a putback and two jumpers for six points in the early going as he gave the Tide a 31-25 lead. But it would be inside 10 minutes to play before the Tide would get another field goal. Fortunately, Georgia wasn’t making anything either.
With 6:20 to play Bama had a 34-30 lead and the Bulldogs had scored only one field goal in the second half. Nick Jacobs made a field goal – the Tide’s sixth of the second half at that point, followed by Trevor Lacey on a nice drive and shot and Jacobs a short jump hook. Alabama was leading 40-32.
But the Bulldogs didn’t give up, hitting a trey and then making a steal and layup to pull within a point. A slam dunk putback gave Georgia its only second half lead at 41-40 before Bama started its big finish.
It was fitting that Alabama’s final points were set up by the defense – a Releford steal – and finished with an alley-oop back to Cooper for a slam and 52-42 lead with seconds to play.
Alabama didn’t get off to a good start in Athens, going over five minutes to open the first half with no points. Back-up center Nick Jacobs made a field goal to break the ice.
It was still slow going. Bama was down 13-5 when the Tide began a 12-2 run to take the lead.
Trevor Lacey hit his first three-pointer in three games, Andrew Steele made a steal and took it in for a layup, and Lacey made a free throw to close to within 15-12. On a tough drive, Trevor Releford made a miracle shot and was fouled. His free throw tied the game at 15-15 with 8:09 to play. With 6:45 to play, Retin Obasohan beat his man on the outside, made a nice drive, and gave Alabama its first lead of the game with a slam.
Bama got the lead for good in the first half when Devonta Pollard made a nifty drive up the middle for a short jumper and a 20-19 advantage. Levi Randolph his his first three pointer in several games for a 23-19 Bama advantage. In the final half minute of the first period, Lacey had a very fine shot off a fast break to make it Alabama 25, Georgia 22 at halftime.
Alabama has now won four consecutive games against Georgia and five of the last six meetings against the Bulldogs.
The Crimson Tide has an all-time record of 92-47 against Georgia.
This was the ninth straight game and 16th time in 24 games this year that Bama has held the opposition to under 60 points.
Alabama is 3-3 in SEC road games this year.