The comeback kids did it again.
Twice this month Ole Miss had already overcame double-digit, second-half deficits to win against Southeastern Conference opponents.
The first was a successful 23-point comeback bid over Alabama. Auburn led by as many as 14 points Wednesday, before Ole Miss quickly wiped it away to win comfortably, 85-75.
Saturday at Alabama couldn't have been scripted any better.
The Rebels faced an 11-point deficit with 15:29 to go in regulation. The Crimson Tide had reeled off a 15-4 run to open the second half and was in full control at 48-37. Ole Miss was in no offensive rhythm.
Those faint hopes for the NCAA Tournament were, again, all but lost.
But then the unlikeliest of heroes, sophomore guard Trevor Gaskins, emerged.
"The coaching staff has always been telling me to be ready to make a play," Gaskins said. "Today I took it in and stepped up and made shots. I did whatever I could to help the team."
Gaskins scored eight of his 14 total points over a three-minute span to spark a 12-0 Ole Miss run. Once the dust settled, Ole Miss led for the first time, 49-47, since 2-0 early in the first period.
And while the teams traded the lead three times in the final minute, what followed was Ole Miss' third victory in its last eight games.
A last-ditch 3-point attempt by Tony Mitchell clanked off left iron. The Rebels, in typical come-from-behind fashion, hung on for a thrilling 76-73 win.
"There's such a fine line between winning and misery," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, his team now 19-9 overall and 7-7 in SEC play, said. "Both teams were very competitive. We really responded (in the second half). Our energy picked up."
Sophomore Murphy Holloway paced Ole Miss in scoring with 16 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Terrico White, fresh off a 21-point effort against Auburn, added 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Charvez Davis and Mikahil Torrance each had 19 points to lead Alabama (14-14, 4-10).
"There's still a lot to play for," Kennedy said. "Our guys understand that. We'll approach each game as such."
The game was tied six times and saw the teams swap 12 lead changes. However, no shot was bigger than a White 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play.
After Davis connected on one of his five makes from long distance in the loss, Alabama held a slim 72-71 advantage. Ole Miss then took possession needing a score with time ticking away. White, from the right corner, stepped up and drained a beauty to give his team a lead it would never relinquish.
Chris Warren, who finished with 12 points, sealed it from the charity stripe. He stepped to the line with 8.6 seconds left to attempt a 1-and-1. He made both and the game, for all intents and purposes, was over.
"We realize the predicament we're in when you look at the (NCAA Tournament) picture," said Kennedy. "Our guys obviously have some fight left in them."
With just over 10 minutes to play in the first half, Ole Miss and Alabama were tied, 12-12, following Gaskins' first 3-point make of the game. Torrance did most of the damage for Alabama. He quickly scored 11 points, compared to six for the rest of the team, as the Crimson Tide pushed ahead 17-15 with 7:51 to go.
The teams went back-and-forth for most of the period, until a 6-0 Alabama spurt pushed the Crimson Tide out in front at 27-22. However, White brought Ole Miss closer as the buzzer sounded for intermission on his third successful try from beyond the arc.
The Rebels trailed 33-31 at the break.
Ole Miss was down three, 55-58, midway through the second half. But Chris Warren was good on a layup and Gaskins again dialed long distance to pull within one. The Rebels gained the upper hand, 64-61, thanks to consecutive baskets from DeAundre Cranston and Eniel Polynice.
"It was a team effort against an Alabama team who is five or six wins away from flipping their record," Kennedy said. "This game was two teams fighting for their lives. If we continue to grind, we've got a chance."
For the game, Ole Miss shot 45 percent (29-of-64) from the floor. Alabama, meanwhile, was 42 percent (26-of-62). The Rebels were 48 percent from the 3-point line (12-of-25) and won the rebounding battle, 39-31.
Ole Miss returns to action Thursday, as it plays host to LSU at 8 p.m.
Comeback Déjà vu
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