Dazon Ingram scored 22 points. Braxton Key scored 19 points. Lawson Schaffer scored 3 points. And while the 41 combined points by Ingram and Key were necessary to the win, it may be that Schaffer’s three-pointer in the first half had as much to do with victory as any play in the game.
Alabama defeated Ole Miss, 70-55, in Coleman Coliseum Thursday night to end a two-game losing streak in the final regular season game of the year in Tuscaloosa. The Tide is now assured of a winning Southeastern Conference record and a fifth seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville.
Alabama closes out regular season play Saturday when the Crimson Tide goes to Knoxville to meet Tennessee at 1 p.m. EST (Noon central time).
In the first half, to the delight of the crowd, Lawson Schaffer went into the game with some five minutes to play in the first half. And with 4:20 before intermission Schaffer drained a three-point shot. Not only did it pull the Tide to within two points of the Rebels, it also meant that Bama had cracked the 20-point mark in the first half.
Two things: One, Schaffer ordinarily just gets some fan-pleasing mop-up time. Two, in three of the past four Bama games the Tide has failed to reach 20 points in the first half, and lost two of the three games.
Moreover, the shot seemed to ignite Bama at a time when the game was going Mississippi’s way.
Schaffer’s shot was followed by a nice drive by Key to make it a tie game and Alabama was able to take a 29-25 lead to the second half.
Alabama had been down by as many as 7 points a couple of times in the first half, while the biggest Alabama lead was the halftime score.
The Tide didn’t need Schaffer’s shooting in the second half as Bama took it out to a 13-point lead early, withstood an Ole Miss flurry that pulled the Rebels to within 5 points with 7 ½ minutes to play, and finished it off by getting out to a 17-point margin in the final moments.
Alabama is now 17-12 overall and 10-7 in SEC play. The Rebels fell to 18-12 overall, 9-8 in the conference.
Alabama did it with strong shooting, led by Ingram going 9-10 from the field (including 2-2 on three-pointers) and Key hitting 7-11 (1-3 on treys). Bama hit 53.8 per cent in the second half, making 14-26 field goals, while holding the Rebels to 10-31 on field goal tries in the second half, only 3z2.3 per cent.
Ingram and Key were the only Tide players in double figures in scoring. Key also had 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and blocked 2 shots. Bola Olaniyan had a game-high 10 rebounds and Jimmie Taylor had 3 blocked shots.
Ingram got 16 of his 22 points in the second half and Key 13 of his 19.
Breein Tyree led the Rebels with 14 points.
For the game, Alabama was 24-51 from the field, 47.1 per cent. The Tide hit 6-21 three-point tries (28.6 per cent) and 16-24 free throws (66.7 per cent). The Rebels finished 19-61 from the field (31.1 per cent), 4-21 on three-pointers (19 per cent), and 13-19 free throws (68.4 per cent).
Alabama had a 40-36 rebounding advantage and an 11-6 advantage on second chance points.
It was not a pretty game with Alabama having 18 turnovers (leading to 19 Rebels points) and Ole Miss turning it over 14 times (Bama getting 13 points off the miscues).
NOTES: Alabama honored sernior Jimmie Taylor and graduate transfers Corban Collins and Bola Olaniyan in Senior Day ceremonies prior to the game and the three were part of the starting lineup along with guard Dazon Ingram and wing Brandon Key.
As expected, Shannon Hale was not part of the Senior Day recognition. He has been suspended at least through the end of the regular season from all team activities for an unspecified “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Alabama went through the SEC schedule never suffering more than two consecutive losses after breaking the two-game losing streak Thursday night.
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Alabama now owns a 120-57 lead in the all-time series against the Rebels.
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