TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama trailed most of the second half and appeared well on its way to its fourth consecutive loss.
But Retin Obasohan sparked a 16-2 run in the last four minutes to help the Crimson Tide beat Tennessee 63-57 on Tuesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Obasohan finished with 22 points, and Shannon Hale scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half for Alabama (11-8, 2-5 Southeastern Conference).
”On coming back, yeah, it just speaks to the character of our team,” Obasohan said.
Kevin Punter scored four straight points and the Volunteers had a 53-47 lead with 4:18 to play. Obasohan scored six points during a 10-0 stretch and Hale hit two free throws to give Alabama a 57-55 lead with 1:24 left.
Derek Reese answered with a tip-in shot to tie it with 1:12 to go. Alabama’s Arthur Edwards made a 3-pointer and after a Tennessee miss, Obasohan grabbed the rebound and converted a 3-point play on the other end to seal it.
Alabama coach Avery Johnson said he told Edwards to be confident and shoot the ball in the final minutes of the game.
”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, a big 3 for us, and he made it.”
Riley Norris added six points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for the Crimson Tide.
Punter made three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points to lead the Volunteers (10-10, 3-5). Robert Hubbs III added 13 points, and Armani Moore chipped in seven points and 11 rebounds.
It was only the third game Punter had been held to fewer than 16 points.
”Punter’s a terrific scorer so we knew we had to give him a lot of attention,” Johnson said.
Alabama had a slight rebounding edge, 42-38, yet grabbed eight of the last nine rebounds during the final four minutes of the game to help avoid its sixth loss in its last seven games.
”It’s been a rough couple of days,” Johnson said. ”We had a really hard practice yesterday, and it carried over into today’s game.”
The Crimson Tide rallied from eight points down, using a 7-0 spurt to pull to 25-24 at halftime. Hale made a layup and Obasohan scored five points during the stretch.
The Volunteers answered with a 15-6 surge, capped by Admiral Schofield’s back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second half and stretch the lead to 40-30.
Consecutive 3s by Punter made it 48-33 at the 14-minute mark. But from there the Volunteers went cold, missing their next 15 shots during a nearly nine-minute stretch. Hubbs ended the skid with a layup, and Tennessee had a 50-47 lead with 5:27 remaining.
Tennessee: Punter’s 15 points is a season-low in an SEC game. … Punter had scored at least 23 points in three-straight games. … Armani Moore and Devon Baulkman dished out four assists apiece. … Moore had a game-high five blocks. … Shot just 22 of 65 for 34 percent from the floor, but made all five free-throw attempts.
Alabama: Obasohan added five assists, and has scored 20 or more points in three straight. … Hale was 5 of 17 from the floor, and made 9 of 10 free throws, and it was the first time he had scored more than 13 points in a game since Nov. 29. … It was the 145th game against Tennessee, the fifth-most games the Crimson Tide has played an opponent.
Tennessee travels to TCU on Saturday.
Alabama visits South Carolina on Saturday.