Furious Rally Not Enough At Ole Miss

Is it possible to learn something about your team with only two or so games left to play? Perhaps Alabama Coach Anthony Grant learned that his team can score if it runs plays to shoot. Unfortunately, that strategy isn't likely to be employed unless the team is down by 16 points with just over five minutes to play.

There was pre-game discussion of Alabama's game at Ole Miss being important for Southeastern Conference Tournament seeding and even, perhaps, for making the NCAA Tournament. Until the last five minutes, no one would have believed the Crimson Tide was interested.

Almost no one would look at the final score and realize that Alabama was humiliated in Oxford. No offense and no defense and, most disheartening of all, no hustle for 35 of the 40 minutes. Ole Miss took an early double digit lead and then piled on before a furious barrage of successful three-point shots down the stretch made it a seemingly respectable final score of Mississippi 87, Alabama 83.

Grant had a reasonable observation of opposing teams shooting many more free throws in Tide road games in recent outings, but this third consecutive road loss had a discrepancy in fouls shots because Bama was forced to foul down the stretch. It was a plan that might have worked except the Rebels are among the SEC's best free throw shooting teams and made a high percentage of those foul shots, 26-35 for 74.3 per cent.

With the loss, Alabama fell to 19-11 overall and 11-6 in the conference. Ole Miss improved to 22-8 overall, also 11-6 in the SEC.

Alabama closes out regular season play Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Georgia at Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. CST with television coverage on the SEC Network. Bama was a 52-45 winner over the Bulldogs in Athens on Feb. 12.

Alabama's furious rally improved the Tide shooting for the game remarkably. Bama finished 29-66 from the field for 43.9 per cent and 12-21 on three point shots for 57.1 per cent. Bama made 13-16 foul shots, 81.3 per cent. Unfortunately, Ole Miss shot very well against the Tide, 27-49 from the field (55.1 per cent) and 7-15 on treys, 46.7 per cent.

Alabama had a 41-25 advantage in rebounding, but that was offset to some extent by the Tide having 17 turnovers to only nine for the Rebels. Ole Miss scored 22 points off the Tide's turnovers, Alabama only 11 points off Rebels miscues.

Bama had a big advantage on second chance points, 23-7, and a smaller margin on points in the paint, 28-24.

The Crimson Tide was led by sophomore guard Trevor Lacey with 19 points while sophomore forward Nick Jacobs added a career-high 18, junior guard Trevor Releford 16, and sophomore guard Rodney Cooper 12. Jacobs had nine rebounds and Cooper 7.

The Rebels were led by the SEC's leading scorer, Marshall Henderson, who hit 6-13 field goals, including 3-7 three-point shots, and made 9-11 free throws for 24 points.

Ole Miss started the second half with a nice cushion, a 12-point lead at 37-25, and the Rebels scored the first seven points of the second half. The Rebels kept the score in double digits until under two minutes to play when Lacey made a three-point shot to pull the Tide to within nine points at 77-68. At that point Alabama had to foul the Rebels on every possession and the Rebels took advantage, making 10-12 in the final two minutes. The last free throw by Ole Miss gave the home team an insurmountable four-point lead with just seconds to play.

That was just enough to hold off the Tide, which – beginning with Lacey's trey at 1:52 – got six three-point shots to fall. Lacey made three and Cooper, Randolph, and Releford had one each. Lacey's last trey pulled Bama to within three points, but the Tide would not get the ball with a chance to tie.

Alabama could not have been much worse than the Crimson Tide was in the first half. Among the 14 turnovers by the Crimson Tide were five offensive fouls. Otherwise, Bama offense was about the same as always, which is to say, not much.

Bama's much-discussed scoring droughts usually come in the second half, but the Tide started early against the Rebels. Down 10-8, the Tide gave up nine consecutive points to Ole Miss before Trevor Lacey stopped the bleeding with an unlikely runner down the left side of the lane.

Ole Miss pulled back out to a 14-point lead before Bama had three three-point trips. On the first, Trevor Releford drove for his first basket of the game and then made the free throw with just under six minutes in the half. Then Lacey made a three-point shot and Retin Obasohan drained a trey and the Tide was within 30-23.

But then Marshall Henderson scored two free throws, a three-pointer, and a short jumper after Alabama failed to rebound a missed Mississippi foul shot and Henderson had 12 first half points and Ole Miss had a 37-25 halftime lead.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama finished the road part of its SEC schedule with three consecutive losses and an overall 3-6 record as the visiting team in league games.

This was the only game between Alabama and Ole Miss on this year's SEC schedule.

With the loss, Alabama still has a 117-54 advantage in the all-time series. Bama fell to 38-41 when playing in Oxford and 22-25 in Tab Smith Coliseum.

For the 12th consecutive game, Alabama started junior center Moussa Gueye with four guards, junior Trevor Releford and sophomores Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper.

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