TUSCALOOSA, Ala.-Senior Malik Benlevi’s buzzer-beater 3-pointer helped Georgia State overcome a 21-point halftime deficit to top Alabama on Tuesday night 83-80 at Coleman Coliseum.
Georgia State (6-3) trailed 55-33 with 18:57 to play before mounting an epic comeback that included holding Alabama (5-3) without a field goal for more than nine minutes of the second half.
A lay-up by junior D’Marcus Simonds with 43 seconds to play gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, 80-78. Dazon Ingram tied the game on the other end before Benlevi came down to hit the game-winner as time expired.
Benlevi finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Simonds, the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year finished with 23 points and five rebounds, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
The win gave Georgia State its second win in the same season over a Power 5 opponent for just the second time in program history. The Panthers knocked off Georgia 91-67 in the Cayman Islands Classic two weeks ago.
“I’m just really proud of my guys,” head 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.”
Senior Devin Mitchell, who played his first season at Alabama before transferring to Georgia State, finished with three points in his second game back from an injury that kept him out the first seven games of the year.
Alabama was led by Kira Lewis, Jr., who scored 19 points, making 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Dazon Ingram came off the bench to score 17 points and grab eight rebounds.
Holding an early 10-9 lead, Alabama used an 8-0 run to build an 18-9 lead with 12:22 to play in the first half.
Trailing by 10, a Benlevi 3-pointer and dunk by Nelson Phillips cut the Crimson Tide lead to 27-22 with just under eight minutes to play.
Using a 17-2 run, Alabama pushed its lead to 50-29 with just under four minutes to play and went into the locker room leading 52-31. The Crimson Tide shot 59.4 percent in the first 20 minutes while holding Panthers to 40.6 percent from the floor.
The comeback started with a 10-0 run capped by two Simonds’ free throws to cut the deficit to 61-49 with 11:51 to play.
A 14-2 run late in the game got the Panthers to within three, 69-66, with 5:28 to play before the teams traded baskets.
On senior Jordan Tyson’s two free throws with 4:04 remaining, the Panthers trailed just 75-71.
Trailing by five, Simonds made lay-ups on back-to-back possessions and was fouled on the second to tie the game with 1:35 to play, setting up a crazy final 90 seconds.
Georgia State held Alabama to 29.2 percent shooting in the second half and 22.2 percent from 3-point range.
- The last time Georgia State topped two Power 5 programs in the same season was 2000-01 when the Panthers opened the season with a win over Georgia and then defeated Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament.
- Georgia State earned its first win ever over Alabama (three games) and sixth win over an SEC program.
- Georgia State faced its fourth 2018 NCAA Tournament team in the first nine games of the year and improved to 2-2 in those games.
- Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Panthers have won more games (116) than any other NCAA Division I team in the state of Georgia.
Georgia State will return home for three of its final four non-conference games starting with Chattanooga on Dec. 12. Tickets are available by visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com/Tix or by calling 404-413-4020.