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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) – Donta Hall had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and paced by a huge first-half run and Alabama pulled out a 73-64 victory over Penn State on Friday night.
John Petty had 13 points and five rebounds, and Tevin Mack totaled 11 points and four rebounds for the Crimson Tide (8-3), who have won three straight.
Thanks in part to five early 3-pointers, Penn State (6-6) took a commanding 23-9 lead, only to see Alabama counter with its best run of the season.
Sparked by graduate student Riley Norris, who missed the start of the season after having a cardiac ablation procedure for an abnormal heart rhythm, the Crimson Tide went on 24-0 run over 7:25.
Down 33-27 at halftime, Penn State had yet to shoot a free throw (Alabama was 3 of 5) and leading scorer Lamar Stevens had been limited to just four points. The junior forward finished with 12 points, while Trent Buttrick topped the Nittany Lions with 13 points.
Penn State did manage to come back and last led 54-53 with 7:58 remaining before Alabama pulled away.
Alabama won its second game at Coleman Coliseum against a Power 5 conference opponent in 12 days, having defeated Arizona 76-73 on Dec. 9.
The Nittany Lions attempted just five free throws and made them all.
With both programs looking like they could be bubble-destined for the NCAA Tournament, the outcome could end up being worth a lot more than just a regular win. Although Penn State is off to a 0-2 start in Big Ten play, the Nittany Lions came in eighth nationally in nonconference strength of schedule. As a league, the Big Ten is 3-2 against the SEC this season.
Penn State hosts UMBC to wrap up its nonconference schedule on Dec. 29.
Alabama will visit Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 30 to complete a home-and-home series.
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