Alabama Basketball: Tide gets road SEC must-win in Oxford

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

As the regular season winds down, almost every game is a must-win for Alabama basketball. The Crimson Tide took care of business in Oxford, MS.

In its first four possessions Saturday night in Oxford, Alabama basketball did not play like a team in a must-win game. Three of the first four Crimson Tide possessions ended in a turnover. As a result, Ole Miss built an early seven-point advantage.

In 87 seconds, a layup by Herbert Jones and two, threes by Kira Lewis Jr. gave the Tide a lead. Ole Miss never regained a lead and trailed by 14 points at halftime. The closest the Rebels got in the second half was an 11-point deficit. The Alabama Crimson Tide won going away 103-78.

It could not have been much fun for Ole Miss fans. Rebels head coach, Kermit Davis got a first-half technical. His star player, Breein Tyree was teed up in the second half. Davis’ outburst from the Tyree call, earned the Rebels coach another ‘T’ and an ejection. If he failed to watch the last 14:31 of the game from the Ole Miss locker room, no one should find fault.

Ole Miss ran some effective offense in the game. With a few exceptions, its defense was, putting it kindly, porous. Nate Oats’ Alabama basketball team picked the Rebels apart with 56 percent shooting, fueled by 25 assists. The Crimson Tide was 45 percent from outside the arc. Add to those impressive numbers a 14-point advantage in the paint, a four rebound edge and only 12 turnovers. The only weakness for the Tide was 57 percent shooting from the foul line.

Nate Oats tried to be a gracious visitor by picking up the second of the game’s four technical fouls. His gesture no doubt went unappreciated by Ole Miss fans. The Tide has never lost a basketball game when Nate Oats gets a technical.

For any Crimson Tide fans wanting to dish on Kermit Davis – don’t. According to Cecil Hurt, Oats and Davis were chatting before the game and the Ole Miss coach said Herbert Jones is “everybody’s hero.”

What does the first Crimson Tide win in Oxford in forever mean? It will mean little if not followed by three more wins in the next four games. Most of the high-profile Bracketologists predict, at most, five SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky, Auburn, LSU and maybe Florida are locks or near locks. The fifth nod would go to Mississippi State, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina or maybe Tennessee. The longest winning streak for any of the five (Alabama and Arkansas) is one game.

The Gamecocks have lost their last two games. Arkansas has won only once in six games. State lost to TAMU on Saturday. The Vols have lost six of their last nine games. SEC teams are more ‘playing their way out’ than ‘playing their way in’ to the NCAA Tournament. It is possible the SEC could get only four teams.

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Taking down the Bulldogs on Tuesday night would be an important win. It would give the Crimson Tide an inside track should the SEC get five NCAA teams.