Lackadaisical Tide Falls To Rebels

Alabama seemed to discover a way to beat Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday. Unfortunately the Crimson Tide didn't figure it out it until it was too late. A horrendous Bama first half enabled Mississippi to take a 60-51 win in the final regular season game of the year.

There's something bothersome about a halfcourt offensive game plan that involves dribbles and passes around the perimeter until all but about 10 seconds of the shot clock has expired, and then trying to work for a good shot. The results are about what anyone would expect: mostly bad shots. And in basketball, the result of a bad shot is usually a missed shot.

Primarily by attacking inside, Alabama scored on its first six possessions of the second half and made something of a game of it, but it was too late.

That's because Bama started the second half with only 17 points. Bama trailed Ole Miss by 28-17 at intermission. The Tide scored only two points in the final eight and a half minutes of the first half. Mississippi didn't have to play much defense in the first half. The Crimson Tide offense was its own worst enemy. Bama hit 6-27 field goal attempts (22 per cent). Since it was so hard to hit, the Tide decided to try a lot of them from further out, and managed to make only 2-12 from three-point range.

Alabama scored twice as many second half points – 34 – as first half points for its grand total of 51.

Alabama was able to cut the margin to within four points a couple of times, but it was an all-around poor performance—lazy, almost--by a team that should have been playing on top of its game in search of a high Southeastern Conference Tournament seed and NCAA Tournament berth.

With the loss, Alabama falls to 20-10 overall and 9-7 in SEC play. Ole Miss improved to 18-12 overall and 8-8 in the conference.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant saw it the way everyone else did. He said, "We weren't prepared to play today, and as coach I take responsibility. I've got to do a better job of making sure our guys are prepared to play. It was evident we didn't have the passion or the purpose needed."

The only good news on the day is that as Alabama played like the game didn't matter, from one standpoint it didn't matter. Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt in Knoxville, 68-61, and so by any tie-breaker even if Alabama had won, the Vols would have gotten one of the top four seeds and Alabama would not. Florida, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt will be in the top four seeds along with regular season champion Kentucky.

A fifth seed means Alabama starts play in the SEC Tournament in New Orleans on Thursday, playing South Carolina, the 12th seed. South Carolina was a 56-54 winner over Bama early in the season in Columbia, certainly the worst loss of this season for the Crimson Tide. Tipoff Thursday is expected to be at 2:30 p.m. CDT.

Alabama and Ole Miss split their two games this year with Bama having won 69-67 in double overtime in Tuscaloosa.

The only reason the game was as close as it was is because of Mississippi's terrible free throw shooting. The Rebels made only 16 of 34 free throws. Of course, those 16 free throws made were a big part of the Rebels' win as Alabama shot only 14 free throws, making eight.

In what were almost shocking statistics Ole Miss scored 16 points off turnovers and six points on fast breaks. Alabama did not deliver a point in either category. No fewer than four times the Tide had the numbers for what looked like sure fast break points and got no points and one charging foul. The Rebels outscored Alabama 34-24 in the paint. And Ole Miss subs scored 22 points, while Alabama's bench delivered only three points. Alabama, second best in the SEC in forcing turnovers this year, caused only seven turnovers against the Rebels.

Senior JaMychal Green delivered his 26th career double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Trevor Releford led the Crimson Tide with 12 points.

Ole Miss was led by Terrance Henry and Jarvis Summers, who had 10 points each. Three Rebels had nine points.

For the game, Alabama hit 19-55 field goal attempts for 34.5 per cent. The Rebels were good on 21-49 for 42.9 per cent. Alabama was 5-20 on three-pointers (25 per cent), the Rebels 2-10 (20 per cent). Alabama was dominant on the backboards. Although it was officially just 42-18, The Rebels had seven deadball rebounds on misses of the first of two free throw opportunities.

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