I very nearly prewrote a recap on this gaming, assuming we’d see yet another blown lead by the Tide in the final 10 minutes of the game to wind up losing by 5 points.
Well, it serves me right for doubting, I guess.
Both teams struggled to score early on as it took 6 full minutes of game time for the two squads to combine for 12 points. Interestingly enough, with the whole season on the line, Coach Avery Johnson decided to start both Riley Norris and Galin Smith instead of John Petty, Dazon Ingram, or Tevin Mack. And considering the low offensive output, it didn’t really work out.
After that 6 minute slugfest to open the game, the Tide just totally transferred all of their shooting prowess over to the Rebels for a few minutes as Ole Miss dropped 10 straight points over the next 4 minutes. Tevin Mack broke the slide with a three-pointer to get teh Tide back in striking distance, but Ole Miss continued to light up the board as they raced out to a 10-14 point lead for the rest of the half. Alabama went into halftime trailing 24-38, and the only reason it wasn’t a 20+ point game was because Tevin Mack was draining three-point shots left and right.
With the Tide struggling to put together any semblance of offense and Ole Miss getting hot, the game looked as good as over. But, ye of little faith, Avery Johnson’s squad was just a few shades of red short of being well done.
Alabama held Ole Miss scoreless for 5 straight minutes after the opening couple of possessions of the second half, and Tevin Mack and Kira Lewis used that time to combine for 17 points— letting the Tide take the lead with a score of 44-43 with 13 minutes to play.
After that, the teams swapped the lead 7 times over the next 10 minutes of the game. Alabama wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well, but the Rebels were absolutely determined to turn it over in some of the most spectacular ways possible while making enough three-point shots to keep pace with Alabama working the ball inside.
With a minute left in the game, John Petty got his first points of the night when he dunked a rebound in the midst of the entire Rebel defense to get a 3 point lead for the Tide. Ole Miss couldn’t hit their next shot, and Alabama made just enough free throws (!!!) after that to salt away the game. Final score: 62-57
The Alabama offense was pretty much entirely the Tevin Mack show, as he nailed 4/6 three-pointers and led the team with a resounding 21 points while racking up 6 rebounds. Kira Lewis was next with 13 points, and most of his damage was done off of his team-high 4 steals. He was a demon in transition all night.
Galin Smith actually was the only other Tide player in double digits, as he turned his extended playing time into 11 hard-earned points. Donta Hall didn’t do a whole lot offensively, but he pulled down a phenomenal 15 rebounds.
Both Alabama and Ole Miss were a little weak on the shooting % all night (if you couldn’t tell from the low final score), but Alabama grabbed 19 more rebounds that Ole Miss. That kind of possession difference gave Alabama enough chances to rack up more points and close out the game as the Rebels spiraled into poorer and poorer shots and worse turnovers in the final quarter of the game.
With another win over a Q1 team, Alabama will move on to face Kentucky and are back in the mix to potentially get an NCAA tournament bid. As it is, it will be close. If they somehow beat Kentucky for the second time this season, an NCAA berth will be pretty much assured.