Staunch defense and some clutch plays down the stretch carried Alabama to yet another victory in the SEC tournament on Friday.
Alabama defeated South Carolina, 64-53, in the third round and will now play the behemoth that is Kentucky in a semifinal matchup.
Braxton Key scored 18 points, carrying Alabama through a rugged first half. Riley Norris came on late to provide an offensive spark -- scoring all 12 of his points in the final 12 minutes of the game.
FINAL: Alabama 64, South Carolina 53
Alabama 58, South Carolina 53 (1:22) Alabama's Avery Johnson Jr. and Braxton Key made four straight free throws as the Tide has wrested control.
Alabama 54, South Carolina 51 (3:42) Riley Norris answers a three-pointer by South Carolina's PJ Dozier with a layup. Norris has scored all 12 of his points in the last ten minutes.
Alabama 52, South Carolina 47 (4:30) Riley Norris once again benefits from extra effort. An offensive rebound by Donta Hall led to a kick-out pass to Norris at the top of the arc, where he drained a three-pointer.
Alabama 49, South Carolina 45 (5:38) Riley Norris connects on a three-pointer. But credit Bola Olaniyan for giving him a chance with a hustle play that gave the Tide a chance to retain possession after a missed free throw by Dazon Ingram. Norris replaced Olaniyan and immediately scored.
Alabama 45, South Carolina 43 (7:08) Sindarius Thornwell hits a pull-up three-pointer in transition, and the Gamecocks have sliced their deficit.
Alabama 45, South Carolina 39 (8:17) Braxton Key throws down a big dunk in traffic after Avery Johnson Jr. made a three-pointer in the corner off an in-bounds play. The Tide has created a little separation from the Gamecocks. Points are at a premium here.
Alabama 40, South Carolina 37 (11:56) Riley Norris has come alive. He converted layups on consecutive possessions after failing to score a point in the previous 27 minutes.
Alabama 36, South Carolina 33 (13:53) Donta Hall finishes off a three-point play one possession after he almost created another one. Hall has scored the last five points for the Tide.
Alabama 31, South Carolina 27 (15:47) A small section of Alabama fans stood up and applauded when South Carolina was assessed its sixth personal foul of the game. The Tide has had 12 called against it.
Alabama 27, South Carolina 27 (17:44) Sindarius Thornwell makes a three-pointer after Alabama's Dazon Ingram delivered a nifty assist to Bola Olaniyan for a layup.
HALFTIME: Alabama 23, South Carolina 22
Through 20 minutes, it seems clear Alabama's performance against Mississippi State was an outlier game. The Tide has reverted back to its old form. The Tide is shooting 35.7 percent from the field and has made only two of the 10 three-pointers it has launched. Still, because of staunch defense, the Tide holds a lead over the Gamecocks.
-- Alabama 21, South Carolina 21 (2:43) Sindarius Thornwell scores on a drive, tying the score. He leads the Gamecocks with six points.
-- Alabama 21, South Carolina 16 (3:52) Braxton Key makes his second three-pointer to give the Tide a five-point cushion.
-- Alabama 16, South Carolina 16 (5:24) Not long after Braxton Key ended Alabama's drought from beyond the arc with a three-pointer, Sindarius Thornwell scored from the field for the first time Friday.
-- South Carolina 14, Alabama 13 (7:26) Evan Hinson gives South Carolina its first lead of the game, crashing the basket before scoring on a layup. The offensive woes that have plagued Alabama all season are afflicting the Tide yet again. Alabama is shooting 30 percent from the field and has missed all six of its three-point attempts.
-- Alabama 13, South Carolina 10 (8:19) Avery Johnson Jr. scores on a drive, banking in a layup that cut short a spurt by South Carolina in this low-scoring affair.
-- Alabama 9, South Carolina 6 (11:14) The Tide made consecutive shots for the first time Friday as Braxton Key converted a pair of layups. So far, Key and Ingram -- two freshmen -- have accounted for all of Alabama's points. Meanwhile, SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell has been held scoreless.
-- Alabama 5, South Carolina 4 (12:29) Both teams are shooting a combined 4 of 21 from the field and have scored a total of nine points in almost eight minutes of action.
-- Alabama 2, South Carolina 0 (15:36) The Gamecocks have missed all five of their shots from the floor and have committed two turnovers. But Alabama hasn't been able to take advantage, giving the ball away on four different trips into South Carolina's defensive end.
-- Alabama 2, South Carolina 0 (18:22) Dazon Ingram picks up where he left off Thursday, scoring the first basket in transition after Jimmie Taylor poked the ball away on the other end to launch the fast break.
Can Alabama continue to play well on both ends of the floor?
That is the biggest question for the Crimson Tide heading into its third-round SEC tournament matchup with South Carolina on Friday at 2:30 p.m. Alabama pieced together one of its most complete games Thursday in a 75-55 victory over Mississippi State.
But the Tide will see if it can handle prosperity, which Alabama coach Avery Johnson openly questioned this week.
What's known, however, is that Alabama (18-13) can beat the Gamecocks (22-9). In one of the most exhausting games of the season, the Tide defeated South Carolina, 90-86, in four overtimes on Feb. 7 in Columbia.
Alabama will roll out the same starting lineup it did on Thursday with Jimmie Taylor, Bola Olaniyan, Braxton Key, Dazon Ingram and Riley Norris taking the floor for the opening tip.