TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr. played for Kansas State coach Bruce Weber last summer in Greece on the gold medal-winning USA U19 team. On Saturday night, Weber’s team was on the receiving end of a Lewis scoring outburst.
Lewis scored 26 points and Alabama earned another win for the SEC in the SEC/Big 12 challenge, beating Kansas State 77-74.
”He’s an unbelievable downhill driver,” Weber said about Lewis. ”He really shot the ball well from when he has those open 3s, and he made a couple of big daggers today.”
A 14-0 Alabama run in the second half extended the lead to 16 for the Crimson Tide, but the Wildcats responded with a 15-2 run that eventually cut the deficit to one.
Lewis made back-to-back baskets on the next two Alabama possessions, and Alabama never relinquished the lead.
”When a team makes a run like that, you just figure out ways as a point guard to try to stop the bleed,” Lewis said. ”Get a bucket and try to get a stop and get more buckets.”
The Crimson Tide was in unfamiliar territory in the first half after their recent success during a three-game winning streak.
During the win streak, the Crimson Tide only trailed for a total of 3:49 overall. Kansas State scored on the first possession of the game and led for more than 15 minutes in the first half.
Alabama had a mini 6-0 run to take their first lead at 31-30, but the Wildcats took a 37-36 lead into halftime.
Kansas State controlled the boards throughout the game and finished with 22 offensive rebounds compared to three for the Crimson Tide.
”Our offensive rebounding that we gave up was disastrous and really could cost us the game, so we gotta get that cleaned up,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said.
All five starters for Alabama finished in double figures including Alex Reese, Jaden Shackelford and John Petty Jr. scoring 11 points and Herbert Jones 10.
Junior guard Cartier Diarra led the Wildcats with 17 points. Senior forward Makol Mawien added 13 points and 12 rebounds, including seven offensive boards.
Kansas State: The Wildcats out-rebounded Alabama 45-33, a team that was tied for fifth in the country in rebounding coming in.
Alabama: Alabama moves to 3-1 all-time in the SEC/Big 12 challenge and has now won four games in a row and eight straight at home.
Kansas State hosts Oklahoma on Wednesday night.
Alabama travels to conference leader LSU on Wednesday.
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