Alabama Turns In Loss For The Ages

Alabama has a history this year of taking a first half lead, then failing to finish and losing games. That unfortunate signature reached John Hancock proportions Saturday in a road game at Mississippi. A near-perfect first half by the Crimson Tide was followed by perhaps the most embarrassing 20 minutes in Bama basketball history.

Alabama had a 23-point lead early in the second half against Ole Miss in Oxford, but was unable to hold on. The Rebels came from behind and won going away, 74-67.

The loss was Alabama's third in a row and dropped the Tide to 13-10 overall and 3-6 in Southeastern Conference games. Alabama has had a number of games in which there was credible effort by the Tide, but this game was not in that category. Ole Miss improved to 17-6 overall and 5-4 in conference games.

Alabama came into the game allowing opponents just 62.4 points per game. The Tide surrendered 54 points to Ole Miss in the second half alone.

Alabama has a quick turn-around, and a difficult one. The Crimson Tide stays on the road, going to Lexington to play national power Kentucky on Tuesday. Tipoff for that game will be at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m. central time). Bama returns to Tuscaloosa next Saturday to play Arkansas.

There was virtually nothing good about Alabama's second half performance. The Tide did not stop dribble penetration by the Rebels except with fouls and Bama did not guard the perimeter shots against a good outside shooting team. Alabama missed critical layups with the game still possible to win, got out-fought for rebounds, and had disastrous turnovers.

The Rebels opened the second half with great energy, forcing the issue at both ends of the court. Ole Miss pressed Alabama, disrupting the Bama offense, and the Rebels offense out-quicked the Tide defense.

The leading Ole Miss scorer this year is Chris Warren. He was held to only three points in the first half, but exploded for 18 in the second half. Terrence Henry had a career-high 18 points against the Tide, including 16 in the second half. Mississippi shot 60 per cent in the second half and out-rebounded Alabama 23-9.

For the game, Alabama shot 50 per cent from the field (24-58), including 7-15 on three-point shots. Bama hit only 13-20 on free throws.

Foul shots have been an issue for Bama in SEC games this year. The Rebels had an incredible 29 second half free throw opportunities and made 22 of them. For the game, Ole Miss made 25-33 free throws. The Rebels made 22-53 field goals (41.5 per cent), but only 5-24 on three-pointers (20.8 per cent).

JaMychal Green had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Tide, but had only two rebounds in the second half. Mikhail Torrance had 12 points and seven assists, but only one assist in the second half. Torrance also had a crucial miss on the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation late in the second half. Tony Mitchell had 16 points and eight rebounds.

If Alabama could put together two halves like its first half in Oxford, the Crimson Tide would be ranked among the nation's best teams. Against the 25th rated Ole Miss Rebels, Bama dominated in every aspect in the first 20 minutes.

Most important was the halftime score: Alabama 40, Mississippi 20.

It was a combination of defense, rebounding (Bama also doubled up the Rebs in that category, 20-10), and shooting. Alabama had its best shooting half of the season (15-23 for 65 per cent) and its highest point total in a first half in SEC games. Meanwhile, using both a 2-3 zone and its man-to-man, Bama held Ole Miss to 7-28 shooting, a cool 25 per cent. The Rebels have a reputation for three-point shooting, but managed only 3-16 in the first half.

In the first half, the score was tied only once, at 2-2.

Bama built lead to 10 points at 17-7 at the 12:30 mark and extended that to 20 points at 34-14 with 5:10 to play in first half. The Tide's largest lead was 22 points at 40-18 before the Rebels got a pair of free throws in the final two seconds before intermission.

Early in the second half, Bama's lead was 43-20. With 6:26 to play, Ole Miss tied the game at 56-56. Green then missed two free throws for Alabama and the Rebels came back and got a putback basket by Terrico White to take the lead for good with 6:10 to play. The Rebels had outscored Alabama 38-13 in 13 minutes of play.

BamaMag Top Stories