BOSTON (TICKER) —Bracey Wright came out ablaze for the second half.
Wright scored all 17 of his points in the second half as No. 6 Indiana rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit for a 67-62 victory over 10th-seeded Alabama in the first round of the Midwest Region.
Wright was scoreless in the first half as Indiana (20-13) missed its final eight shots and trailed, 35-24. But he took it to the basket aggressively in the second half as the Hoosiers stormed back.
“I wanted to get into my rhythm,” Wright said. “In the second half, I came out looser than in the first half. I just started to drive to the basket more.”
Tom Coverdale made two free throws, Wright scored four straight points and Jeff Newton had a basket to cap an 8-0 run as Indiana took the lead for good, 53-49, with 7:13 remaining.
Alabama (17-12) had a last chance after Mo Williams’ 3-pointer sliced the deficit to 65-62 with 58 seconds to go. Wright missed a jumper and the Crimson Tide called their final timeout.
Williams came off a pair of screens on the baseline and got free for a 3-pointer but missed with 11 seconds to go.
With Alabama tying to foul, Indiana was able to work the ball upcourt and got a dunk from A.J. Moye with two seconds to go to seal the win.
“I’m disappointed,” Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. “It hurts. But I’m proud of our team. I thought we played really hard. I thought we played with so much desire.”
The win capped a difficult week for Indiana coach Mike Davis, who played at Alabama from 1980-83. Davis’ mother, who is from Fayette, Alabama, was in attendance.
“I haven’t slept since Sunday,” Davis said. “Whenever you play against a former school, you want to do well. We played hard in the second half. In the first half, I think the guys were a little tight - I was tight. I’ve been tight the last three or four days of practice. I just wanted to win the game awfully bad.”
Coverdale, who has been criticized by Davis throughout the year for a lack of leadership, scored 16 of his 23 points in the first half and just missed a triple-double with eight rebounds and eight assists.
“We came out a little bit tight in the first half,” Coverdale said. “But in the second half, we calmed down and played the way we have been playing since the Big Ten tournament.”
Indiana improved to 6-2 in NCAA Tournament games under Davis. The Hoosiers earned a shot at second-seeded Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Alabama closed the first half with a 13-1 run to build an 11-point lead as Williams made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Indiana shot 32 percent (7-of-22) in the first half as Wright missed both of his shots.
The second half was a different story as Wright nailed a jumper to start a 15-4 spurt. His 3-pointer forged a 39-39 tie with 13:48 remaining.
“We were fortunate that Coverdale in the first half kind of took us on his back and carried us,” Davis said. “Bracey picked it up in the second half.”
The Crimson Tide seemed to regain the momentum as Williams started to reassert himself and create easy baskets. Freshman Kennedy Winston scored on a drive and Williams nailed a jumper for a 49-45 edge with 10:25 to go.
Wright had nine points in a five-minute span as the Hoosiers finally gained the upper hand for good. He made 5-of-9 shots in the second half and was 5-of-7 at the line.
Williams scored 15 of his 26 points in the first half to pace Alabama, which lost 10 of its final 15 games. Erwin Dudley collected 18 points and nine rebounds.
“I think this was a game that came down to which team would get the breaks down the stretch,” Williams said. “There were balls that both teams were hustling 110 percent for and went their way.”
For the Tide, the game resembled its season. Alabama got off to an 11-1 start before fading and never finding its rhythm, suffering a humiliating 82-69 loss to Vanderbilt in the first round of last week’s Southeastern Conference.
“I know people are going to write negative things back home,” Gottfried said. “But I am just so proud of the way we battled. Every team has negative times during the season, and I thought we had a chance to make some noise in this tournament.”
Newton scored 14 points to offset a poor night from frontcourt partner George Leach, who fouled out with four points in 16 minutes.
The Crimson Tide shot 35 percent (8-of-23) in the second half and had a streak of six straight first-round victories come to an end.