Tide finishes Bulldogs' streak in Athens, Ga.

The University of Alabama men’s basketball team won another close game despite a poor shooting night.

The Crimson Tide (16-8, 8-3 SEC) squeaked out a 52-45 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs (12-12, 6-5 SEC) in Athens, Ga. Tuesday night.

After the Bulldogs took a 41-40 lead, the Tide closed the game with a 12-4 run to end Georgia’s five-game winning streak.

“I’m really impressed with Georgia. They’re really efficient offensively, and they’ve been guarding well,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said in a postgame interview with ESPNU. “We knew coming in, first and foremost, we’d have to do a great job defensively. I thought in the first half we struggled and couldn’t make shots early. I told the guys just stay the course.”

The Tide shot 38.8 percent from the floor, including 33 percent from behind the arc, but Grant told the players not to worry about their offensive struggles.

“We talked before the game about how we couldn’t let anything on the offensive end affect what we were doing on the defensive end, and I thought our guys stayed true to that,” Grant said after the game. “First half, we finally got in a rhythm and were able to take the lead at the half.

“We talked about it at the half, that we were going to have to come out and give a great effort on the defensive end, and that would win the game for us. We made enough shots in the half, and our defense was outstanding. Switching defenses kind of bothered them, and that helped us out as well.”

Defensively, Alabama held Georgia to 30.8 percent shooting from the field, including 23 percent from three-point range. The Tide stifled the Bulldogs for much of the game with its zone defense but made necessary adjustments when Georgia began making shots.

“We felt like we could have some success playing zone, and we played it extended minutes because it was working,” Grant said. “They struggled to find quality shots against the zone. They hurt us late with quality shots, so we switched back to man, and I thought the man [defense] carried us through.”

Rodney Cooper led Alabama with 14 points and five rebounds, while Levi Randolph added eight points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 22 points and snatched eight rebounds. Nemanja Djurisic put in 12 points and tallied five rebounds. The Bulldogs were able to out-rebound Alabama 41-33.

Alabama is now 8-2 in its last 10 games with an outside chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Still, Grant and the team aren’t looking past their next opponent.

“Right now, it’s one day at a time, one game at a time for us,” Grant said. “That’s the only thing we can see, and that’s the only thing we should be focused on. Our guys are doing a better job of focusing on that as the season goes on.”

Next up for the Tide is a home game against South Carolina Saturday, Feb. 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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