Mikhail Torrance scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half as Alabama overcame an 18-point deficit and defeated South Carolina 68-63 in the opening game of the 2010 Southeastern Conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena.
The Crimson Tide (17-14) outscored the Gamecocks (15-16) 34-11 over the final 12:13 and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will face the top seed, Kentucky, at noon (CST) Friday.
"Our guys, I thought, showed great toughness, a great will to -- even though things were going badly -- to stay together and to fight," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "I couldn't be prouder of the effort. Great win.
"Obviously, we're excited to still be a part of the tournament."
Alabama took the lead for the first time in the second half when Tony Mitchell’s layup made it 60-59 with 2:07 remaining. Torrance put his team in front to stay with a jumpshot 20 seconds after South Carolina’s Ramon Galloway tied it 62-62 on a 3-pointer.
Four straight points by Galloway earlier in the half gave the Gamecocks their biggest lead, 52-34. They were held to just two field goals and six free throws the rest of the way.
“Credit to Alabama,” South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said. “They made all the plays they needed to down the stretch. … When we got up by 15 … quite honestly, we didn’t respond very well to it.”
South Carolina guard Devan Downey led all scorers with 21 points. Galloway added 14 points, two assists and two steals.
Justin Knox added 16 points for Alabama.