COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Kira Lewis Jr. had 17 points including the go-ahead foul shots with 3:34 to play as Alabama lost a double-digit lead before rallying late to beat South Carolina 68-62 on Tuesday night.
The Crimson Tide (17-11, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) looked to have an easy one after opening a 28-15 lead. But the Gamecocks (14-14, 9-6) came all the way back and were up 54-49 after Tre Campbell’s 3-pointer with 7:15 to go.
That’s when Alabama found its touch in a 14-3 run over the next five minutes to take control.
South Carolina’s last lead came on Chris Silva’s foul shot with 3:53 to go. Lewis, though, followed that next time down with a pair of free throws to put the Crimson Tide ahead for good.
Donta Hall had 15 points and 10 rebounds as Alabama won its second straight after three consecutive defeats as it fights for that fourth seed in the jumbled SEC standings that would bring two days off before starting league tournament play.
Riley Norris had 11 points, all in the second half as the Crimson Tide won its fourth straight over the Gamecocks.
Silva led South Carolina with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
South Carolina didn’t look like a team that had risen to fourth in the stacked SEC, missing 14 straight shots at one point to fall behind 28-15. Alabama, though, has struggled to score at times this season and that kept things tighter than it should’ve been given the Gamecocks inability to make shots in the first half.
When South Carolina hit three straight shots, the Crimson Tide were up just 29-25 with 10 seconds left in the half. Lewis, though, took an inbounds pass and raced the length of the court for an easy jumper as time ran out.
Lewis was about the only player the first 20 minutes who managed to score. He had 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
South Carolina’s frustrations were evident. Hassani Gravett was just 1 of 8 the first half and Keyshawn Bryant was 1 of 6. Even Silva, typically reliable down low, missed several easy chances early on.
The Gamecocks finished shooting just 30.8 percent for the game including going 4 of 19 from behind the arc.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide kept alive their chances at climbing to fourth in the SEC standings. Lewis and Hall showed they can be a dangerous one-two punch for Alabama down the stretch.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks have fallen into big holes too often this season during SEC play and may have run out of gas after climbing out of another. It was the 11th time in SEC play South Carolina has trailed by double digits. They’ve gone 5-6 in those contests.
Alabama hosts No. 13 LSU on Saturday.
South Carolina travels to Missouri on Saturday.