Releford Heroics Put Tide Past Rebs

There's something about a basketball game having two halves, and about Alabama sometimes playing well in just one of them this season. Trevor Releford didn't have a great first half against Ole Miss Tuesday night, but what a second half. And particularly what a final second. His three-point shot with :00.6 gave Bama a 67-64 win over the Rebels in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night.

Alabama had squandered a seven-point halftime lead to Ole Miss. The Rebels had taken the lead with 9:45 to lead and held it until Trevor Releford tied it at 55 with a fast-break lay-up with 4:17 to play and gave Bama the lead at 58-56 on a driving layup and free throw with 3:32 to play.

Ole Miss stayed alive in the final minute with a made free throw and then running down the missed second foul shot. A quick pass to Marshall Henderson for a trey pulled the Rebs to within two points. With 12.5 seconds to play, Mississippi's Jarvis Summers made two free throws to tie the game at 64-64.

And that set it up for Releford's shot from deep behind the arc, only his second three-pointer of the game. He made a quick pass to Rodney Cooper, who returned it to Releford immediately, and Releford launched the winning shot.

Alabama improved to 9-14 overall and 4-7 in the Southeastern Conference and ended a four-game losing streak. Ole Miss is now 16-8 overall and 7-4 in the conference.

Releford led all scorers with 26 points, 21 of them in the second half. Nick Jacobs had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Shannon Hale 15 points, 12 of them in the first period. Cooper had 10 rebounds as Bama won the battle of the boards, 42-34. Ole Miss was led by Marshall Henderson with 14 points (but on 4-15 shooting), Anthony Perez with 13, and Ladarius White with 10.

Alabama made 24-58 field goals (41.4 per cent) including 3-17 on three-pointers (17.6 per cent) and was good on 16-24 free throws (Releford 8-9 and Hale 8-12) for 66.7 per cent. The Rebels made 21-56 from the field (37.5 per cent) including 8-25 on treys (32 per cent) and 14-19 free throws (73.7 per cent).

Alabama outscored the Rebels by 34-18 in the paint, 14-12 off turnovers, and 4-2 on fast break points, while the Rebels had 13 second chance points to 12 for the Tide.

The game was tied five times and there were seven lead changes. Alabama had as much as a 12-point lead in the first half. Ole Miss led by as many as four in the second half.

Alabama is on the road for its next two games, at South Carolina Saturday for a 3 p.m. CST game and at Texas A&M Thursday, Feb. 20. Bama's next appearance in Coleman Coliseum will be against Missouri on Feb. 22.

Just when it looked like Alabama and Ole Miss had settled into a fast-paced, back-and-forth game in the early going of the first half, the Crimson Tide went off on an 13-point run to a 22-10 lead.

Nick Jacobs started the run with a putback of his own miss (and he would have a handful of those during the game). Trevor Releford scored on a fast break with a nice assist from Shannon Hale, followed by a Jacobs jump hook and a three-pointer by Hale. Jimmie Taylor scored on a dunk and then Hale finished the run with a jump shot. It was 22-10.

Ole Miss ended the run with a three-point shot by LaDarius White, but at about the 10-minute mark Hale's jumper gave him 10 points and Bama a 24-13 lead. The remarkable thing was that the Rebels' star shooter was still scoreless, hounded relentlessly by various Tide defenders -- Algie Key, Retin Obasohan, Shannon Hale, and anyone else who was needed.

Although Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said before the game that Ole Miss was more than Henderson, it was obvious that Crimson Tide players knew at every moment where Henderson was, and there was an emphasis on keeping the ball out of his hands. His first shot was an air ball and he didn't score until scoring a trey on an inbounds play just before the nine-minute mark of the first half.

Ole Miss cut the Tide lead to as few as five points, but Bama was able to maintain the lead and working against the Rebels zone defense had a seven-point margin at 33-26 to start the second half.

Two key Releford plays in the second half were getting a length-of-court drive and layup after Henderson had launched an air ball with just over four minutes to play. With just under three minutes to play, Releford put a quick step move on an Ole Miss defender, who fell to the ground – reminiscent of a Trent Richardson touchdown run against the football Rebels a couple of years ago – and then making a pass to Jacobs for a slam dunk.

TIDE NOTES: Alabama's starting lineup had forwards Nick Jacobs and Shannon Hale and guards Trevor Releford, Algie Key, and Rodney Cooper.

Alabama and Ole Miss meet again in just over two weeks, on Feb. 26 at Oxford.

Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson has been compared to all-time LSU great Pete Maravich, but when Alabama hosted Mississippi in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night it drew one of the smallest crowds in memory for a Southeastern Conference game. By comparison, SEC schools were scrambling to build new arenas – like Coleman – when Pistol Pete was lighting it up in the 1960.

To be sure, Henderson had some dramatic three-point shots, but he also had three airballs and finished just 4-14 on three-pointers (he also had one two-point try blocked) and with 14 points.

In the only meeting between Bama and the Rebels last year, Henderson had 24 points in 25 minutes of play for Ole Miss.

Alabama improved its all-tiome record against Ole Miss to 118-54, including a 72-10 record in Tuscaloosa and a 38-6 mark in Coleman Coliseum.

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