Billikens can’t hold second-half lead, lose 62-57 to Crimson Tide
LAS VEGAS — Alabama was staring at a 2-3 record with just under five minutes left against Saint Louis.
Trailing by nine, Alabama didn’t panic — and the Billikens seemingly did — on Wednesday night.
Brandon Key hit two three-pointers and a free throw in a 17-3 game-ending run and the Crimson Tide rallied for a 62-57 win at the MGM Grand Main Event consolation game.
"We were scrambling all game. Our shots weren’t falling in the first half," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. "We had so many wide-open looks. That run to end the game was a by-product of the way we played the game offensively and defensively. The ball moved. We went small. That’s a lineup we haven’t gone to this year."
Key, who went 3 of 4 from behind the arc, led the way for Alabama (3-2).
"We didn’t want to go home with two losses and be under .500," said Key, whose team lost to Valparaiso on Monday. "This was a big game for us. This shows we can come back. A lot of guys made big plays. We never should have put ourselves in that situation."
After building a 54-45 lead with just over five minutes left, the Billikens (2-3) seemed in control with their largest advantage of the game. From there, hardly anything went right.
"At the end of a close game, which team will make all the big plays," Saint Louis coach Travis Ford said. "(Alabama) made all the big plays. Execution late was not good for us. Shots selection will be addressed. We had plays we were going to. Part of winning is how to win. We have to do it together."
The Billikens had a chance to take the lead in the final 15 seconds, trailing 58-57, but Mike Crawford stepped on the right baseline just before driving to the basket.
On Alabama’s next possession, Corban Collins was fouled and hit two free throws, making it 60-57. Then Alabama’s Dazon Ingram stole the inbound pass, was fouled and converted two free throws to seal it.
Ingram had 10 points and five rebounds for Alabama, while Nick King added nine points. Alabama won despite shooting 33 percent from both the field and three-point range.
Davell Roby led Saint Louis with 15 points and four assists. Reggie Agbeko had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
There were seven lead changes and five ties in the first half as Saint Louis led for the majority. The Billikens had the half’s largest advantage at 27-22 before the Crimson Tide scored the next five. Saint Louis led 30-29 at halftime as Alabama shot 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
With the exception of a brief one-point Alabama lead, the Billikens led for the first 15 minutes of the second half — with its largest lead at 54-45 with 5:25 left on a Johnson 3-pointer. But the Crimson Tide answered with two 3-pointers.
"What a way to finish the game," Johnson said. "We had a lot of fight. Our guys didn’t give up. Huge plays from all of our guys. We made our free throws. We’ll get back to practice and the drawing board on Friday. Then cheer on our football team in the Iron Bowl on Saturday."
VIVA LAS VEGAS
Alabama last appeared in Sin City seven years ago at the Las Vegas Classic.
It was the Billikens’ third appearance in Las Vegas.
Alabama: Hosts Charleston Southern on Tuesday night.
Saint Louis: Returns home to play Samford on Tuesday night.