Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
In the biggest game of the regular season to date, the Alabama Crimson Tide (19-11, 11-6) came out flat early and couldn’t recover in a 87-83 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels (22-8, 11-6). The Crimson Tide needed to come out with a sense of urgency in what looked like a bubble elimination game, but they didn’t. This game certainly wasn’t going to make either team a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but it seemed like the team that lost would also lose hope of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Crimson Tide made a furious late charge, and actually cut the lead to three points with 4.4 seconds to go, but it was too little too late as the Rebels stepped to the free throw line and made clutch free throw after clutch free throw to put the game away. Jarvis Summers hit 1-0f-2 free throws with four seconds to go to put the game out of reach.
Alabama trailed 72-57 with 3:41 to play, but got hot from three to make it a game at the end. The Crimson Tide went on a 26-12 run to finish the game. If Ole Miss would have missed some free throws, the Crimson Tide might have pulled out a miracle comeback, but credit the Rebels for stepping to the line and knocking down clutch foul shots.
The Crimson Tide hit six threes in the final two minutes of the game to finish 12-of-21 from three for the game. If they wouldn’t have been so flat for 37 minutes, things may have been different when the final buzzer sounded.
On senior night, Ole Miss came out with energy and the hot hand and jumped on Alabama early. The Crimson Tide trailed by double digits for most of the night, and every time they seemed to make a run it was Ole Miss responding with a big bucket.
Turnovers doomed Alabama as they turned it over 17 times; 14 of which were in the first half, which was the main reason for the Crimson Tide getting behind big early. The big lead proved too much to overcome for Alabama despite the late barrage of three pointers.
Trevor Lacey led the late charge and finished the game with a team-leading 19 points and 7 assists. He struggled for most of the night until the final minutes. For most of the game, it was Nick Jacobs who led the way for the Crimson Tide offense. He had 18 points and 9 rebounds. He was the only Tide player to play well from the outset.
Trevor Releford and Rodney Cooper also finished in double figures with 16 and 12 points respectively. Retin Obasohan provided a nice contribution off the bench with 9 points and 5 assists.
The SEC’s leading scorer, Marshall Henderson, led the way for Ole Miss with 24 points. He also led the way in cheap shots tonight, and is very fortunate he didn’t pick up two flagrant fouls on separate occasions, and consequently have been ejected early in the second half. He tackled Obasohan in the first half, and then shoved Levi Randolph to the ground in the second half. I think the SEC office should take a further look at both plays.
Alabama really needed to win this game if they wanted any shot at making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large. As it stands now, the Crimson Tide probably needs to win the SEC Tournament if they want to be included in March Madness.
The loss also drops Alabama to 5th in the SEC for the time being, which would mean they would only have a single bye in the SEC Tournament next week. The Crimson Tide still has a chance at a double-bye in the tournament if they can take care of business on Saturday at home against Georgia, and then get a little help.
Alabama wraps up the regular season on senior night in Coleman Coliseum on Saturday, and then the SEC Tournament gets started next Wednesday.
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