Norris leads Alabama upset of No. 19 South Carolina, 73-50
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Alabama's Riley Norris hardly missed from outside and South Carolina struggled to hit from anywhere.
Norris hit his first seven 3-point attempts and scored a career-high 27 points to lead Alabama to a 73-50 upset of previously unbeaten No. 19 South Carolina on Wednesday night.
The Crimson Tide (10-5, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) got the first league win of Avery Johnson's debut season in stunningly easy fashion. The upset leaves No. 10 SMU as the nation's only unbeaten major college team.
''Incredible win for us,'' Johnson said, adding that the Tide's scout team had dominated the starters a day earlier.
The Gamecocks (15-1, 2-1) missed their first 12 shots of the second half and went more than 11 minutes without a field goal starting before the break. They ended an 8-minute scoring drought after halftime down 48-22.
South Carolina never cut it below 18 after that.
''I think we played awful,'' said Michael Carrera, who led the Gamecocks with 14 points and 10 rebounds. ''We played awful. Offensively and defensively, we played awful.''
Norris made the most of his first start of the season, shooting 8 of 11 on 3s. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Justin Coleman added 14 points and six assists off the bench after Norris took his place.
Johnson decided to start Norris two days earlier, and was richly rewarded for that call. Norris shrugged off the performance, repeatedly giving credit to teammates for feeding him the ball.
The last time he got that hot in a game? ''It's been high school,'' Johnson said. ''I don't even remember, honestly.''
Coleman wasn't surprised. ''Riley's a great shooter,'' he said. ''He's one of the best shooters in the country so every time it leaves his hand, I always think it's going in.''
The Gamecocks didn't come close to their previous scoring low of 65 points. They were also outrebounded for only the second team and coach Frank Martin said his players ''got beat to every ball.''
''They attacked us,'' Martin said. ''They did to us what we usually do to people, which is not let them run their offense.''
Norris hit a 3-pointer from a couple of feet beyond the arc to punctuate a 13-0 Alabama run to open the second half. It forced Martin to call time out, but the South Carolina shots never started falling.
Norris had led the Tide to a 35-22 halftime lead after hitting five consecutive 3-pointers in the first nine minutes.
Alabama didn't need a big game from leading scorer Retin Obasohan, who had just four points.
South Carolina's top scorer, Sindarius Thornwell, also struggled. He scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
The Gamecocks struggled across the board in shooting. They made just 19 of 53 shots (35.8 percent), 3 of 18 3-pointers (16.7 percent) and 9 of 17 free throws (52.9 percent).
Norris matched his career-high of 18 points by halftime, triple his season average coming into the game. The sophomore already topped his previous high of five field goals in the half, going 6 of 8.
Alabama football players Derrick Henry, Reggie Ragland and Kenyan Drake were honored during a first-half timeout two days after the Tide won the national title over another team from South Carolina, Clemson. ''That was a big standing ovation that they got and it kept the energy in the building,'' said Johnson, who was in Arizona for the championship game.
South Carolina: Started 1-of-8 shooting with seven turnovers in first seven minutes, falling into a 13-2 hole that kept expanding. Had reached program's highest ranking since 1998.
Alabama: Improved to 3-2 against Top 25 teams this season. Leads series 14-2 in Tuscaloosa. Made 12 of 21 3-pointers.
South Carolina: hosts Missouri on Saturday.
Alabama: visits Vanderbilt on Saturday.