Mack, Lewis lead Alabama over Georgia 89-74
Alabama (14-8, 5-4 SEC) led by one after Georgia (10-12, 1-8) scored the opening basket of the second half. Then, for a two-minute span, Mack went on a run almost by himself, scoring 10 points during Alabama’s 12-2 burst, including back-to-back three pointers within 30 seconds. That two-minute run extended Alabama’s lead to 53-42 and Georgia never recovered.
“Coaches are always telling me to stay aggressive,” Mack said. “The last couple of games, I wasn’t shooting the ball enough for them. . Everything else will come off fine if I stay aggressive and attack.”
Alongside Mack, was freshman Kira Lewis.
Lewis, who averages a team-high 13.6 points, finished with 24 points, tying his career high. He scored 12 points in each half, making 59 percent of his shots for the game.
“(Lewis is) a special player, special kid too,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “There’s nothing 17 years of age about his game.”
Lewis scored on back-to-back layups to give Alabama its largest lead at 80-62.
Alabama outscored the Bulldogs 26-13 in the first 10 minutes of the second half to extend a three-point halftime lead to 67-51 and the Tide led by double digits the rest of the way. The Bulldogs went 5-of-19 shooting from the field while the Tide pulled away.
Derek Ogbeide had 17 points to lead the Bulldogs, who lost their third in a row and seventh of the last eight. Rayshaun Hammonds added 13 points, Nicolas Claxton had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Teshaun Hightower scored 11.
Georgia opened the game with a 15-7 lead but Alabama erased the gap with a 10-0 run and the lead went back-and-forth for the rest of the first half.
Georgia: The Bulldogs are still searching for their first conference road win and fixing their defensive woes was foremost on Crean’s mind.
“We have to figure out something to help us defensively,” Crean said. “They are working. They are trying. There is no doubt about that. They want to win, but we just didn’t get enough hands on shooters tonight. We (coaching staff) need to keep figuring out ways that give them (student-athletes) the best opportunities to eliminate our weaknesses, right now.”
Alabama: For the Crimson Tide, defense was the point of emphasis as well. After Georgia made 49 percent of its shots for 38 first-half points — the fifth most that Alabama has allowed this season — Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson addressed the deficiency going into the second half.
“I put a goal on the board, in terms of what are our goals defensively,” Johnson said. “Fortunately, outside of one or two baskets that they made on us, we accomplished our goals. We were just really focused. It was crystal clear what the mission was at half time.”
Georgia: The Bulldogs return home to face Ole Miss on Saturday.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt on Saturday.