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No. 8 Alabama Comes Back from 15-Point Second Half Deficit to Stun No. 1 Houston, 71-65

Crimson Tide defeats AP No. 1 team for second time this season
Credit: University of Alabama Athletics

HOUSTON, Texas — For the second time in two weeks the No. 8/10 Alabama men’s basketball team has defeated the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, as the Crimson Tide knocked off No. 1/1 Houston, 71-65, in front of a record crowd at the Fretitta Center Saturday afternoon.

The Tide (8-1) trailed by as many as 15 points early in the second half but outscored the Cougars (9-1) 42-21 over the final 17 minutes of play to earn the team’s third top-15 win of the season.

With the win, Alabama became the first team to defeat two different No. 1 teams before January since the 1965-66 season when Duke accomplished the feat. Two games ago, on Nov. 27 at the PKI in Portland, Ore., UA captured a 103-101 quadruple-overtime win over then-No. 1 North Carolina.

Alabama’s Noah Clowney led the Tide with 16 points and a game-high 11 boards to lead three players in double figures. Jaden Bradley finished with 12 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists, while Mark Sears added 11.

Houston (9-1) was led Jamal Shead’s 19 points, while Tramon Mack added 10 in the losing effort.

Head Coach Nate Oats’ Postgame Comments

“This is one of those character wins that shows the guys are going to keep fighting no matter what the score is. We could have easily given up when we were down 15. The start to the second half wasn’t great. We made some changes with the bench guys which allowed us to hang in there. We kept clawing away until we finally took the lead and then we were able to pull away down the stretch. That’s a tough team. You have to give Houston a ton of credit. They give you everything you can handle. They had our offense looking like a disaster for most of the game and that’s total credit to them. They take you out of what you want to do, and they did a great job of taking Brandon (Miller) out from what he does. But he showed a lot of character stepping up and making free throws late. We were able to get contributions from a bunch of different guys. Huge program win – not sure how many teams get to play two No. 1 teams in non-conference, but I think that shows that we’ve gotten this program to where we can play with anyone in the country.”


  • The win was the Tide’s first true road victory over the nation’s top-ranked team in almost 40 years, dating back to Jan. 28, 1983 when UA won at then-No. 1 UCLA, 70-67
  • Alabama improves to 5-7 all-time against the No. 1 team in the country, including a perfect 2-0 mark this year
  • The matchup between No. 8 Alabama and No. 1 Houston was the Tide’s first AP Top-10 contest in 20 years dating back to 2002 (then-No. 8 Alabama defeated then-No. 3 Oklahoma in New York)
  • The Tide is now 3-1 on the year against ranked teams (also defeated then-No. 12 Michigan State)
  • UA limited Houston to just one made field goal over the final five-plus minutes and two makes in the last eight-plus minutes of the contest
  • Alabama was 6-of-6 in the final minute from the charity stripe while Houston was 0-of-3
  • Noah Clowney earned the Hard Hat Award


  • Noah Clowney led Alabama with eight points to go along with six rebounds, one block and one assist in the opening stanza
  • The Tide committed 12 turnovers while Houston committed three
  • Alabama outrebounded Houston 26-18
  • Houston’s Jamal Shead led all scorers with 10 points
  • After leading a majority of the first half, the Cougars scored the final five points to take a 31-27 lead into the locker room
  • Alabama’s bench scored 10 points while limiting Houston to four points



  • Houston opened the second half with a 13-2 run to take a 15-point lead with 17:13 left
  • From that point on, Alabama would outscore the Cougars 42-21
  • It began with a 12-3 spurt over the next 5:19 to cut the deficit to 47-41 at the under 12 media timeout
  • Trailing 58-53 with 7:42 left to play, the Tide outscored the Cougars 16-5 over the next 7:15 to hold a 69-63 advantage with 27 seconds remaining
  • Brandon Miller, who did not make a field goal but went 8-of-9 from the foul line in the second half, hit all six of his free throws in the final minute to seal the Tide’s upset win



  • Alabama will return home to face Memphis at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday, Dec. 13. 
  • Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN2. 

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