Everything was working for Alabama, until it wasn’t.
The Crimson Tide relied on scorching hot shooting to build a 22-point second half lead on Georgia State, only to watch it crumble.
Sudden cold shooting and sloppy play allowed the Panthers to claw their way back into the game and claim an 83-80 victory on a last-second three pointer.
“It was a tale of two halves for us tonight,” Johnson said. “We shot the ball well in the first half, kept them on their heels, we were really attacking. Ball movement, player movement, shots were falling, did a decent job at the line in the first half. We kept Simonds under control, then it all fell apart in the second half.”
For the first 20 minutes of the game, it appeared as though Alabama was going to put its recent shooting woes to rest. The Crimson Tide shot a blistering 42.1 percent from beyond the arc and 59.4 percent overall in the first half. Kira Lewis went into the break with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Dazon Ingram was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field with 13 points. Alabama led 52-31.
Johnson should have been elated when he walked into the locker room. Instead, he was worried. Johnson could sense his team’s lack of focus.
Then, after a good start to the second half, the drought started. For over eight minutes, Alabama didn’t make a single field goal.
“Offensively, just too long of a drought scoring,” Johnson said. “We saw it a little bit in our last game, but just didn’t do a job.”
Alabama made just 7-of-24 shots in the second half, including 2-of-9 from beyond the arc and 12-of-21 from the free throw line.
Georgia State’s leading scorer, D’Marcus Simonds, also came alive. Coming into the game averaging 21.6 points, Simonds surpassed that against Alabama, posting 23.
Along with Simonds’ scoring outburst, Georgia State comeback was aided by limiting Lewis, who managed just three points in the second half.
“Give them credit for making sure he was a priority in the second half, both he and Dazon,” Johnson said. “They tried to make the ball go other places. Whether they were trapping Dazon and Kira and trying to force the ball to other players on the team and we just all got to make plays.”
One bright spot for Alabama was the return of veteran Riley Norris, who missed the first seven games of the season after undergoing a cardiac ablation procedure on his heart. He chipped in four points off the bench.
The Crimson Tide finished with four players in double-digits. Lewis (19), Ingram (17), Tevin Mack (12) and Donta Hall (11).
Alabama (5-3) will look to bounce back against Arizona (6-2) on Sunday at noon in Coleman Coliseum.
“Be ready for the next fight,” Johnson said. “Our next fight is our next practice and we got to get better in practice.”