Tide Falls To Mississippi

The Alabama basketball team of Coach Mark Gottfried continues to be the worst in the Southeastern Conference when it comes to going on the road. Alabama has won just seven times in ins last 42 SEC road games after falling to Mississippi, 71-60, in Oxford Saturday. The Rebels had just one SEC win prior to Saturday as Ole Miss had been the near-unanimous pick to finish last in the SEC Western Division this year. A Gottfried-coached Bama has never won at Oxford.

Alabama fell to 11-5 this season, including 3-2 in SEC games.

Although Antoine Pettway had a good game and led a handful of second half flurries in which it appeared Bama might make a move, the Tide ended each of those rallies with either a blown offensive trip or allowing an uncontested Mississippi shot. Bama was within eight in the last three minutes, but also fell behind by as many as 16 in the second half.

Pettway had a career-high 25 points and also led Alabama in rebounding with six.

Coach Mark Gottfried said, "He really stepped up today. He's a tough, tough person."

Alabama was without the services of its leading scorer, guard Earnest Shelton, who is sidelined with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, suffered in Bama's win at Georgia Wednesday. With Shelton out, Bama has two starters who are considered very weak defensively. And while Bama's defense was soft, Mississippi had an aggressive defense that forced Alabama into numerous turnovers and low percentage shots.

Although it is not a complicated scouiting report when playing Mississippi, that doesn't mean it's easy to stop Justin Reed and Aaron Harper. And Alabama did not stop them. Reed had a game-high28 points , while Harper added 17.

Alabama returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, hosting Florida in Coleman Coliseum. The game will be telecast by ESPN2. Earlier this year Florida was ranked first in the nation.

After taking a 2-0 lead, it took Bama only a matter of moments to fall behind by a double-digit margin and the Rebels maintained a lead of about eight points through most of the half. Alabama was down 31-20 at intermission. Mississippi had scored 15 points off Alabama's 12 first half turnovers, while Alabama had just five points off Rebels' turnovers, accounting for 10 of the 11 points in that margin at the half. For the game the Tide had 18 turnovers resulting in 21 Mississippi points.

Gottfried said, "I thought our guys played really hard. We didn't do a lot of things well, but we did play hard. When you have your leading scorer out of the game, other people have to step up, and we didn't do that. We were a little out of sync, which was a credit to Mississippi's defense. But it wasn't because of a lack of effort."

While Thomas didn't pick up the slack offensively for Shelton with only three points, Demetrius Smith had a very good game, particularly late in the second half. Smith had 12 points and four assists. Also in double figures was Kennedy Winston with 15 points.

Sophomore Chuck Davis has played very well for Bama in most games, but had a very tough time against the Rebels with only three points and three rebounds. In addition to Shelton being injured, Bama lost another starter when 6-11 freshman Jermareo Davidson went out with a knee injury.

Mississippi became just the second team this year to shoot better than 50 per cent against Alabama's defense. The Rebels were good on 52 per cent of their shots, including 44 per cent of three-point attempts. Alabama was good on 45 per cent from the field, 31 per cent on three-pointers. Alabama did have a slight edge in rebounding, 30-26.

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