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Georgia State rallies to stun Alabama at buzzer

 

From Special Reports

 

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Malik Benlevi's buzzer-beater 3-pointer Tuesday night helped the Georgia State men's basketball team overcome a 21-point halftime deficit to beat Alabama 83-80 at Coleman Coliseum. 

 

Georgia State (6-3) trailed 55-33 with 18 minutes, 57 seconds to play before rallying for its second victory against a Power 5 team this season. Georgia State defeated Georgia 91-67 in the Cayman Islands Classic two weeks ago. 

 

It is the second time Georgia State has defeated two Power 5 teams in the same season. 

 

"I'm just really proud of my guys," Georgia State coach Ron Hunter said. "We were down 21 at the half and we had not played well. It has been a rough road stretch the last few weeks, but I told them to go out and leave it on the court in the second half. They gave me everything they had and I am extremely proud of each and everyone one of them." 

 

Georgia State held Alabama (5-3) without a field goal for more than nine minutes in the second half. 

 

A layup by junior D'Marcus Simonds with 43 seconds to play gave the Panthers their first lead, 80-78. Dazon Ingram tied the game on the other end before Benlevi hit the game-winner as time expired. 

 

Benlevi had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year, had 23 points and five rebounds. 

 

Kira Lewis Jr. hit five 3-pointers for a team-high 19 points for Alabama. Ingram had a season-high 17 points off the bench. Donta Hall recorded his third double-double of the year with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while junior forward Tevin Mack started his first game and had 12 points. 

 

"It was a tale of two halves tonight," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. "We got off to a really good start with shooting the ball really well in the first half and kept them on their heels. We were attacking with ball movement, player movement and our shots were falling and I thought we did a decent job at the line in the first half. It all fell apart in the second half. We just didn't do a very good job on either end of the floor. We didn't get enough support help from the weak side. Offensively we had too long of a scoring drought. We saw it a little bit in our last game, but we just didn't do a good job. 

 

"Like I've been saying since day one, I'm the coach, I'm the one responsible, not the players. As much as I was responsible in the first half, it was the same in the second half, even more. I didn't sense the focus at halftime and I was very concerned because I knew this game wasn't over. Hopefully we will learn and grow from it, but this was a tough loss and we can't lose games like this at home when you're trying to build a resume. I'm hoping we will get back to work, focus and know we have to finish games." 

 

Alabama will play host to Alabama at noon Sunday (ESPN).

 

 

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