Failing To Finish

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Andrew Steele hit a jump shot and 1 of 2 free throws in the final 31 seconds of the second overtime, lifting Alabama to a 69-67 victory over Mississippi on Saturday night.

Steele picked up a loose ball just before the shot clock ran out and drilled a long jumper for the Crimson Tide (15-7, 4-4 Southeastern Conference), which has won two straight after a four-game losing streak.

"Ultimately you've got to make some plays. You can't fault the effort. Guys battled," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Obviously we had some foul issues. They had some foul issues. It comes down to a loose ball here, a jump shot there, and a turnover here , and a free throw there. Unfortunately we didn't get it done."

Jelan Kendrick then missed a shot for the Rebels (14-8, 4-4) and they sent Steele to the line. His first foul shot bounced off the rim and back in to make it a two-possession game.

Reginald Buckner
US Presswire

Trevor Releford also made 1 of 2 from the line after that, and Jarvis Summers hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Ole Miss for the final margin.

JaMychal Green led Alabama with 16 points and 12 rebounds before picking up his fifth foul just 24 seconds into the second overtime.

Mitchell scored 14 points after coming off the bench for the first time this season. He had made just 15 of 50 shots over the previous five games, and coach Anthony Grant went with a starting lineup that included three freshmen.

Charles Hankerson Jr. supplied a second-half spark and finished with 10 points. Releford had seven points, five steals and four assists.

Nick Williams, a Mobile, Ala. native, led Ole Miss with 19 points. Terrance Henry added 14 while Reginald Buckner collected 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots before fouling out in the first overtime.

"It's tough. Just a little bit short. We just gotta make some plays at the end," Williams said. "We had opportunities but we just didn't capitalize. We'll watch the film and get better."

Neither team got a field goal in the second overtime until the 2:19 mark. Then, Releford got a steal and passed to Steele to start a fast break. Steele found Mitchell, who slammed it into the basket for a 63-62 lead.

The Rebels missed a shot and Hankerson couldn't hit a 3-pointer for the Crimson Tide. Mitchell was fouled chasing down a long rebound, making both free throws for a 65-62 lead with 1:18 remaining. Henry scored on a quick drive and Alabama worked 34 seconds off the shot clock before Steele salvaged the possession.

Steele rejoined the team in January after getting medically cleared to return after sustaining multiple concussions, and has supplied a steadying presence for a team that started a trio of freshmen. He had seven points, including several of the game's biggest.

In the first overtime, Henry blocked a Nick Jacobs shot to give the Rebels the ball with 16 seconds left.

Ole Miss had to inbound the ball when Releford knocked it away with 4.2 seconds left. Henry fired it in to Summers who lost control of the ball streaking toward the basket.

Nick Williams
US Presswire

"That's been a big issue for us all year," Kennedy said of the team not protecting the basketball.

"I'd like to sit here and tell you it's not going to be an issue the next game. It is who we are. The same guys are going to be dribbling the ball. We'll continue to try to prepare them as best we can. Ultimately guys at this level have to be able to make plays."

Green's desperation jumper at the buzzer missed. Mitchell punched the ball loose from Henry and Levi Randolph raced for an uncontested layup with 1:48 left to give Alabama a 54-51 lead.

Henry tied it with a basket and free throw at the other end with 57 seconds to play.

Alabama got to run the clock down after a foul, but Randolph missed a baseline jumper at the buzzer to send it to overtime.

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