Alabama Basketball travels to Ole Miss for tough road test

Alabama v Auburn
Alabama v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Alabama Basketball fell out of first place in the SEC when it lost a lopsided game at Kentucky over the weekend. The Crimson Tide will have the opportunity to play its way back into the lead when it goes to Ole Miss on Wednesday night.

With a win over the Rebels, along with a Tennessee loss to Auburn, Alabama would regain sole possession of first place. Coming off the historic loss in Lexington, Bama will have to recalibrate and bring more energy and effort

Though its resume is subpar at best, Ole Miss will not be an easy opponent to defeat on the road. In year one under Chris Beard, the Rebels have amassed a 19-8 record, but have struggled in SEC play with a 6-8 league record. They are currently on a skid, having lost five of their last six games amidst a tough scheduling stretch. Ole Miss’ only win in the month of February is a 3-point home win over a Missouri team that has yet to win a conference game this season. 

Still, the Rebels have some talent on their roster and should not be overlooked. A trio of senior wings give Beard’s team a lot of versatility. Matthew Murrell (17.1 points per game), Allen Flanigan (15.2 ppg, team-high 6.5 rebounds per game), and Jaemyn Brakefield (11.9 ppg) are all tough matchups with pro potential as scorers. Murrell and Brakefield are effective outside shooters who can stretch a defense, while Flanigan is at his best when slashing and playing a physical brand of basketball. 

With all this talent on the wings, 5’11” guard Jaylen Murray makes the offense hum. Murray averages 13.6 points per game, shoots over 40 percent from three-point range, and dishes out a team-best 4.1 assists per game. He will have a difficult assignment in Bama's Mark Sears, the SEC’s leading scorer and top point guard.

In the frontcourt, Ole Miss does not get a lot of offensive production, but does have two elite rim protectors. 7’5” Western Kentucky transfer Jamarion Sharp (2.4 BPG, 341 career blocks) and Oklahoma State transfer Moussa Cisse (1.5 BPG, 194 career blocks) are both in the top five in the SEC in rejections. An Alabama offense that tends to avoid mid-range shots and is heavily dependent on getting looks at the rim will have to choose its opportunities wisely.

On paper, Alabama should handle Ole Miss easily, but things are rarely so simple in college basketball. Winning on the road has been difficult for just about everybody this season, and Ole Miss’ combination of length and athleticism makes the Rebels a tough matchup for the Tide. 

Bama needs this win to keep its regular season title odds intact. The Crimson Tide will have to play much better, on both ends of the floor, than it has in its last two games.