KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Levi Randolph sheepishly admitted that he’s been a good foul shooter his entire life, almost as if Alabama’s senior guard was reluctant to sound like a braggart.
Until he misses a free throw, he’s entitled to a little bragging.
Randolph scored 28 points, going 10 for 10 from the foul line, and had the go-ahead basket in the final minute as the Crimson Tide knocked off Arizona State 76-71 Tuesday night in the third-place game of the CBE Classic.
“I try not to think about it,” Randolph said of his foul shooting — he’s 35 for 35 on the season now. “My whole life I’ve been a pretty good free-throw shooter.”
Ricky Tarrant added 21 points for the Crimson Tide (4-1), who bounced back from a competitive loss to No. 13 Iowa State to make a series of clutch shots in the closing minutes.
Arizona State (3-2) had taken a 65-63 lead on a basket by Gerry Blakes with 3 minutes left when Tarrant got loose on the wing, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.
Randolph added a pair of free throws to extend Alabama’s lead, but the Sun Devils’ Jon Gilling knocked down a 3 of his own to knot the game 68-all with 1:16 to go.
That’s when the Crimson Tide gave the ball to Randolph, who floated along the base line in front of his own bench. He got a leaning jumper to go for a 70-68 lead with 45.8 seconds left.
The Crimson Tide put the game away from the foul line, where they were 26 of 29.
“We had a lot of guys step up and knock down free throws,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “That’s what you want to do on a night you’re not shooting well. You want to be efficient.”
Blakes finished with 21 points and nine rebounds for the Sun Devils. Eric Jacobsen added 11 of his 13 points in the second half, and Gilling finished with 10.
“The story line was our inability to make stops in the second half and our dreadful free-throw shooting,” said coach Herb Sendek, whose Sun Devils were just 14 of 24 from the foul line.
Arizona State led 30-27 at halftime, but it was more because of Alabama’s shortcomings than anything the Sun Devils were doing well. Cooper missed his only shot attempt, the Crimson Tide had just one assist and they were outrebounded by a wide margin.
The Sun Devils slowly extended their lead to 47-40 midway through the second half before Alabama finally got into an offensive rhythm. They began getting to the rim and drawing fouls, and eventually pieced together a 10-0 run that gave them a 50-47 lead with 8 minutes remaining.
The teams traded blows the rest of the way, neither able to create much separation until Randolph got his floater to go. Tarrant’s two free throws with 28.6 seconds left helped seal it.
“Thought tonight was a really gritty win by our guys,” Grant said. “We challenged our guys to stay the course. For us to be able to win, we knew we were going to have to play from a defensive standpoint really, really sound, especially against a team as capable as they are.”
Alabama: After allowing Iowa State to shoot 58 percent from the field, the Crimson Tide held the Sun Devils to 43 percent. … Alabama only had six assists in the game.
Arizona State: Gilling, who hit seven 3s on Monday night, did not attempt a shot until his 3-pointer with 11:33 left in the game. … The Sun Devils had an 11-0 edge in fast-break points.
POUNDING PAINT: Arizona State was effective when it got to the rim, outscoring Alabama 30-20 in the paint. But the Sun Devils were just 7 of 23 from 3-point range.
LEVI’S NIGHT: Grant said it was no surprise that the Crimson Tide went to Randolph down the stretch. “I felt like on the floor we had guys that understood what needed to be done,” he said. “Because of the struggles we were having offensively, for guys to be aware that one of their teammates had it going, I think that’s a great growth sign for our team.”
Alabama takes most of the next week off before a visit from South Florida on Dec. 2.
Arizona State returns home to face Colgate on Saturday night.
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