Tidal Wave

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Ole Miss lives and dies with Chris Warren. Saturday afternoon, the Rebels fell short.

Warren scored a team-high 15 points, but didn't make his first field goal -- his only 3-pointer -- until the 1:16 mark in the second half. The trey pulled Ole Miss, who trailed by 20 at halftime, within eight, but Alabama finished off a 74-64 win with four free throws in the game's final minutes.

The loss snapped a three-game conference winning streak for Ole Miss. The Rebels are now 16-9 overall and 4-6 in Southeastern Conference play.

"They were obviously very aware of where Chris was at all times, which we had anticipated," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Most every time he came off a ball screen, he was facing a double team. We had to be better in reacting off the ball. I thought we were standing and watching. Their reputation defensively preceded them, so we knew they were going to be very scrappy.

"I thought our guys fought. The hill was too high to climb."

Anthony Grant's Tide is now 13-0 at home this season
Courtesy: AP File Photo
Warren entered the game averaging 18.7 points per game, good for second in the conference. Alabama held the senior guard to just 2 of 10 shooting from the floor. He did almost all of his damage from the free-throw line, where he was 10 of 12.

"We understood the impact he has on the game, the impact he has for his team," Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said. "Our guys did a very good job of making sure we didn't give him any easy opportunities. We had some guys who did a good job of locking in and defending him."

Despite his struggles, including sitting out six minutes in the second half, Warren did move up the Ole Miss career scoring chart. He overtook Carlos Clark for sole possession of third place.

"They were aggressive. They're a real scrappy team," Warren said. "They're top in the nation in defense, which they showed tonight. We didn't come out ready to play, came out tentative. Results end like this."

"That's what we do," Alabama guard Trevor Releford said of holding Warren without a field goal for most of the game. "We're the best defensive team in the SEC. Coach told us to come out there and sell out. That's what we had to do. 40 minutes."

Alabama (16-8, 8-2 SEC) showed no signs of a hangover from its controversial loss to Vanderbilt Thursday. The Tide put their defensive prowess on display early, holding Ole Miss to just 39 percent shooting in the first half as they built a 47-27 lead.

Zach Graham scored 13 points in the loss, 11 in the first half, when he was the only Rebel to register more than one field-goal attempt.

For the game, Ole Miss shot a pedestrian 36.2 percent (21 of 58). Alabama, meanwhile, was 47.2 percent from the floor (25 of 53). The Crimson Tide is now 13-0 in games played inside Coleman Coliseum this season.

Terrance Henry had seven points and nine rebounds in the loss
Courtesy: AP File Photo
"First half, we just came out slow," junior forward Terrance Henry, who had seven points and nine rebounds, said. "They came out the gate with a lot of energy. It was either they were going to come out flat from the loss Thursday, or they were going to come out with something to prove. They came out with something to prove today."

Ole Miss opened the game in a zone defense, hoping to force an otherwise poor 3-point shooting Alabama team into long-distance shots. The Crimson Tide had made just two of its 15 3-pointers in the loss to Vanderbilt.

But Alabama shredded the zone. Releford and Charvez Davis each made two 3s. Alabama, as a team, was 5 of 9 from long distance in the first half, and 6 of 13 for the game.

"When you look at it statistically, they're neither a high-volume nor a high-percentage shooting team from the perimeter," Kennedy said. "I thought Trevor Releford was outstanding early; stepped up against that zone, knocked down a couple of big ones. They were moving the ball well. They were knocking down open shots."

Tony Mitchell led three players in double-digit scoring for Alabama with 20 points. JaMychal Green had 15 points and five rebounds. Releford had 14 points and seven assists.

Ole Miss turned the ball over 16 times, compared to 10 assists. The Rebels won the rebounding battle, 37-35. Dundrecous Nelson had three 3s in the second half, and finished with 11 points, though he fouled out late. Henry had seven points and nine rebounds.

Ole Miss returns to action Wednesday, as it plays host to Auburn at 7 p.m.

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