Torrance Turns Tide Into Winners
Alabama, and barely, as the Tide saw Ole Miss miss three shots from point-blank range in the final 20 seconds, which helped Bama hang on for a 76-73 win over the Rebels before a Coleman Coliseum crowd announced at 10,267.
Senario Hillman hit a pair of clutch free throws with 2.1 seconds left to ice the game.
The first half was like a game of H-O-R-S-E between David Huertas of Ole Miss and Mikhail Torrance of Bama. The Tide led 39-38 at the break, with Torrance tallying 16 of the Tide's 39 and Huertas 20 of the Rebs' 38. Neither team could find anyone to guard either player.
In the last 20 minutes, Torrance outscored Huertas, 8-6 Huertas won the overall duel, 26-24, but his team got on the bus home with a road loss.
"It was a hard fought win," said Tide Coach Mark Gottfried. "When we had to have some key stops, we got them. Our kids played really hard. We had too many turnovers down at Auburn, and we were better there tonight. When you win, you feel better about everything you're doing."
"They did a much better job on David (Huertas) in the second half, limiting his touches, and Torrance is a kid who is shooting the ball with confidence," said Rebels Coach Andy Kennedy. "He‘s had over 20 points three straight games." "The first half, I was guarding him (Huertas), but not really like I should have been,," said Hillman, who finished with a dozen points. "The second half, I just made up my mind I was going to get right up on him."
Andrew Steele guarded Huertas when Hillman took a breather. The younger Steele was not made available to the press after the game.
Alonzo Gee scored 15 and JaMychal Green added 12 for the Tide, but the story was Torrance, now the Tide's point guard with the abrupt departure of senior Ronald Steele.
Though Terrico White had 14 points and Murphy Holloway 11 for Ole Miss, it was that pair who missed the point blank shots late that could have sent them home winners.
"We had two good looks there at the end from point-blank range," said Kennedy. "I thought we had a clean look at the tip, but we just couldn't make it. We just left too many points on the table."
"I try to stay in the gym, working on my shooting, as much as I can," said Torrance. "My teammates found me when (Ole Miss) went to the zone."
Torrance had two assists and only one turnover.
"Terrific. He's obviously stepped up," said Gottfried of Torrance. "There's an adjustment for the other guys, but he just did an absolutely great job. In our league, everybody is scouted too well. I just want him to continue to learn, get comfortable, and continue running our offense. He‘s stepping up, and he‘s taking advantage of his chance."
As for distractions like Gottfried's job status and Steele's statement that he did not leave the team for medical reasons, Gottfried had no comment and Gee said they're not distractions at all.
"I'm a senior, and my job is to keep the team focused on playing the games and not all the other stuff," Gee said. Gee had six boards for Bama.
With the win, Bama upped its record to 12-6, 2-2 in SEC play. The Rebs fell to 10-8, 1-3.
The Tide will host Kentucky Saturday at 2 p.m. CST with regional television coverage by Raycom. The UA ticket office e-mailed boosters Wednesday that tickets have been returned for that game and are now available to the public (go to RollTide.com).
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