Alabama rallies to beat Tennessee 63-57 in must-win conference game

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Avery Johnson wants the basketball team to be faster and more aggressive on offense. CW | Amellia Armstrong

Tyler Waldrep

Early in the second half, Tennessee led by as much as 15 points and it looked like Alabama was about to lose a game it desperately needed to win if the team was going to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.

Then Shannon Hale–a player that just regained his spot in the starting lineup after suffering an injury earlier in the season–went on a 10-0 run by himself to get Alabama back in the game.

“Just for him [Shannon] to get his swagger back, as we would say, is huge for us,” teammate Retin Obasohan said. “He came out and even regardless of just his scoring, his rebounding and his tenacity on defense, that helped us too.”

That run would prove to be exactly the spark Alabama (11-8, 2-5 SEC) needed to beat Tennessee 63-57 in Coleman Coliseum.

Obasohan followed up Hale’s run with a layup and a dunk to pull the team within one of Tennessee. Later in the game both players combined to score 10 unanswered points to give the Crimson Tide a two-point lead.

When Tennessee tied it up, it wasn’t Obasohan or Hale that Alabama needed to step up. Instead, coach Avery Johnson turned to transfer Arthur Edwards.

Johnson reminded Edwards of his role on the team as an outside shooter and told him to play with confidence.

“He was open two times and didn’t take the shot,” Johnson said. “I said would you please just shoot the ball. Fortunately, he shot the next one, big 3 for us, and he made it.”

After that, Obasohan grabbed a defensive rebound and took it all the way to the other end of the court for a layup that would seal the victory for Alabama.

“On coming back, yeah it just speaks to the character of our team,” Obasohan said. “Just like coach said, we don’t surrender, we don’t give up.”