Ar’Mond Davis had the basketball in his hands with no one in between him and the goal, but it would still be close. His feet left the ground just in time for him to slam home a buzzer-beating dunk that ended the first half on a good note for the Crimson Tide.
“He’s a spark off the bench for us,” freshman Braxton Key said “He comes in you know he’s going to come in and score. He’s been scoring since he first got here.”
The rest of the Crimson Tide only managed to knock down three of 23 shots during the first half and couldn’t even execute the first play correctly- although Key winded up knocking down a shot from his knees to save face.
That slow start ended up costing the Crimson Tide the victory as Georgia held on to win 60-55 on Thursday night.
Alabama (16-11, 9-6 Southeastern conference) never led the Bulldogs (16-12, 7-8 SEC), but the team did draw within one point with 9:06 left in the game thanks in large part to a 14-4, 4-minute run earlier in the half that was bookended by baskets from Davis.
“Ar’Mond gave us a big lift, he was basically our only offense until Braxton [Key] came alive,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “And we had to use him pretty much the whole second half because we were struggling so much to score and he had a lot of energy.”
Unfortunately, that’s where Alabama’s spark fizzled out. Davis missed six shots during the last nine minutes after starting 7 of 12, while the rest of the team finished two of eight from the field over the same stretch.
“I think we just dug ourselves a hole and then the second half and I mean I don’t know if we had enough left,” Key said.
Key finished with 14 second half points, after scoring only two in the first half, to finish one point shy of Davis’ total of 17. He also grabbed nine rebounds tying Donta Hall for most on the team.
Georgia’s J.J. Frazier finished with a game-high 28 points in a victory that cost Alabama a chance to join Arkansas and South Carolina in a three-way tie for the third spot in the SEC standings.
The loss also impacts the Crimson Tide’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Prior to the game Alabama was hovering around the edges of the at-large discussion and will likely need to win its last three regular season games beginning with Saturday’s trip to College Station, Texas to play Texas A&M.
“Well it NCAA [bubble talk] shouldn’t have [distracted us]. We’ve got guys that were here last year,” Johnson said. “…Sometimes we don’t know who our leading scorer is going to be so we need everybody to play well, and we just didn’t play well enough throughout the game for a longer stretch of the game to deserve to win.”