A bruised, battered, and beleaguered 'Bama basketball team, added another "B" to their woes on Tuesday night: Bloody, as in the bloody noses suffered by Retin Obasohan and Dakota Slaughter during their game with Ole Miss. Ricky Tarrant and Shannon Hale were already missing for the remainder of the season. Jeff Garrett and Christophe Varidel were both lost prior to the season with injuries.
On senior night Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Dakota Slaughter were honored before the game, and all three started. Randolph was outstanding, scoring 32, Cooper tossed in 14, and Slaughter had the most playing time of his career (21 minutes) and scored eight points. Slaughter hit 2-4 on three point attempts, and played well enough to wonder why he didn't get at least 8 to 10 minutes per game during the season.
The Tide came out hot, and took a quick 8-0 lead, leading 12-4 after five minutes. 'Bama could have built a comfortable halftime lead, but missed four free throws (including two front end of one-ones) and allowed an Ole Miss three-point shot at the buzzer, and only had a 30-27 margin at intermission. The Tide shot 9-22 (40%) including 5-12 (42%) from three point range and only 7-12 (59%) from the free throw line in the first half. The Rebels-Black Bears were 11-31 (35%), 3-10 (30%) from three-point land, and 2-4 (50%) from the free throw line in the first half.
In the second half, the teams started off trading baskets before the Rebels ripped off a 17-3 run over a six minute period to grab a lead that 'Bama never could really challenge. For the second straight game, the Tide had no second half defensive answer for their opponent. Just three days after Vanderbilt scorched the second half nets, Ole Miss did the same, hitting 16-26 (62%) from the field, including 4-5 (57%) from three-point range and a blistering 19-22 (86%) from the free throw line. The Tide shot an identical 9-22 from the field in both halves, but only 2-8 (25%) from three point range. The Tide get a great job getting to the line and making its opportunities count, knocking down 24-27 (89%) free throws in the second half.
'Bama could not slow down the Rebels little guard Stefan Moody, who scored 25 points as he continually blew past defenders. LaDarius White came off the bench to score 19, and Aaron Jones scored 10, also off the bench. Ole Miss's bench outscored the Tide bench by a total of 37-5. Randolph led all scorers with 32, including a school record 17-17 mark from the free throw line. Cooper scored 14, and Jimmie Taylor had one of his best games, scoring 13 and grabbing 11 rebounds. Retin Obasohan scored only two points, but did contribute six rebounds, his first subpar game in the last month or so. Riley Norris played 19 minutes and did not score, and had one rebound. Michael Kessens, still bothered by his own injury, played only 16 minutes and put in three points while corralling three rebounds.
Taylor's big numbers came mostly in the first half, as he was able to stay on the floor because he did not commit a single first half foul. However six minutes into the second half, he had already tallied three and had to go to the bench. When Taylor left after his third foul, 'Bama held a five point lead, by the time he returned the team was down by nine points. The Tide is 13-5 in games when Taylor has not been in major foul trouble, and 4-8 in game where he has been.
With the loss the Tide dropped to 17-13 overall, 7-10 in the SEC, and finished with a losing SEC record, 4-5, at home for the first time in 40 years. Ole Miss improved to 20-10 and 11-6 in the SEC, and strengthened their NCAA resume, while the Tide did nothing for their dismal postseason hopes.
The Tide will end the regular season Saturday when it travels to College Station, Texas to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in a 1:00 p.m. game (CST) that will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
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