Carter leads No. 11 Wichita St over Alabama 53-52
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Trailing Alabama by 11 points with 5:50 remaining, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall called his team together to prepare them for a final push.
''He brings us into the huddle and was completely positive, trying to fuel our fire even more,'' said Shockers guard Ron Baker. ''That's the kind of coach you want to play for, and we responded to it.''
No. 11 Wichita State scored 13 of the game's final 14 points to hold off Alabama for a 53-52 victory. The Shockers (8-1) took the final lead on Darius Carter's slam with 11.9 seconds remaining, part of his game-high 16 points.
For Alabama (6-3) it was a stunning defeat despite 13 points each from Levi Randolph and Shannon Hale. The Tide came very close to snapping Wichita State's 23-game home winning streak.
In the end Alabama wilted against Wichita State's pressure defense late. The Tide had seven straight empty possessions, including four turnovers - twice as many as Alabama had in the entire first half.
''That was the game right there,'' Tide coach Anthony Grant said. ''That's what we've got to get better at. They only had two fouls and could be extra aggressive. We didn't handle it.''
Alabama's defense had dictated most of the game. After Wichita State started 7 of 14 from the floor to lead 18-14, the Shockers were 2 of 13 the rest of the first half.
Despite hitting one field goal during a nearly nine-minute stretch, Alabama led 25-24 at halftime.
''I thought Alabama had a great game plan,'' Marshall said. ''In their man, in their zone, the way they switched and rebounded, they did a great job against us.''
That continued in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Each time Wichita State scored, Alabama answered.
Wichita State scored two points over four minutes as Alabama built its lead to 51-40 on a Hale 3-pointer.
After Fred VanVleet, the Shockers' preseason All-America point guard, missed two straight free throws, Baker converted a left-handed scoop shot into a three-point play, cutting Alabama's lead to 51-47 with 3:42 remaining. He had 14 points.
Wichita State pulled even behind freshman reserve Rashard Kelly. He hit his only two baskets of the game, both short jumpers in the lane, making it 51-51 with 1:21 to play.
''They left me open,'' Kelly said. ''I just made the simple play I was comfortable with.''
The Tide took the lead again on a Randolph free throw with 32.1 seconds remaining.
But then VanVleet drove, threaded a bounce pass through traffic to Carter, who converted the slam with 11.9 seconds remaining.
Alabama's ensuing possession was a mad scramble for a loose ball, eventually leading to a Tide timeout with 1.2 seconds remaining.
''We tried to get something at the rim, but they took it away,'' Grant said. ''We were left with a tough shot from Rodney.''
The Shockers celebrated and exhaled.
''It's good to have these close games this season,'' Carter said. ''It shows us what we need to do to win.''
Alabama: The Crimson Tide will play its next five games at home, the longest homestand since the 2008-09 season. . Alabama has not won a road game against a top-25 team since defeating No. 4 Mississippi State on Feb. 21, 2004. . Alabama entered the game shooting 78.8 percent from the free throw line, best in the nation through last weekend's games. They were 7 of 12 at the free throw line Tuesday.
Wichita State: Starting forward Evan Wessel had a tip-in with 3:43 remaining in the first half but then crumpled to the floor after injuring his right ankle. He started the second half, though. . The Shockers took a 4-3 lead in the series. The teams played for the fourth time in five seasons.
Alabama hosts Stillman on Friday
Wichita State plays Loyola Marymount Monday in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.