McCready: 10 Observations from Alabama 62, Ole Miss 57
NASHVILLE — Ole Miss blew a 14-point halftime lead and lost to Alabama, 62-57, Thursday at Bridgestone Arena in the second round of the Southeastern Conference.
The Rebels (20-12) head home to wait for Sunday’s NCAA Tournament bracket to be released. Alabama (18-14) meets Kentucky Friday at 6 p.m. in SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Here are 10 observations from Ole Miss’ loss to the Crimson Tide:
1. Blake Hinson hit a jumper to open the second half Thursday night, extending the Rebels’ lead to 40-24. Ole Miss scored just 17 points the rest of the way. The Rebels shot 24.1 percent from the floor in the second half and 21.4 from the 3-point line. Meanwhile, Alabama scored 38 points in the second half to send the Rebels home to Oxford.
2. Alabama dominated on the glass, winning rebounding, 50-30. Included in that number was 17 offensive rebounds for the Crimson Tide, leading to a whopping 23-2 advantage in second-chance points for Alabama.
3. Alabama’s physicality was a major problem for Ole Miss back in January when these teams last met. It was a major problem again on Thursday. Alabama beat Ole Miss in the paint, 36-20. Galin Smith had 11 points and seven rebounds. Donta Hall had seven points and 15 rebounds. That can’t happen.
4. Ole Miss settled all night. In the first half, the Rebels shot 50 percent and that masked the problem. In the second half, even when Ole Miss got the matchups it wanted, the Rebels settled for shots. Ole Miss needed to drive to the basket and create contact. That didn’t happen on Saturday.
5. Ole Miss shot four free throws Thursday. Alabama shot 18. The Tide missed nine. Otherwise, Ole Miss might have been in more trouble. Kudos to the officiating crew of Doug Shows, Chuck Jones and K.B. Burdett. It’s been a bad year for the stripes, but they had a solid game Thursday. Ole Miss settled. Yes, I’m being repetitive. I’m doing it for emphasis. They settled.
6. Breein Tyree and Terence Davis combined to make four of 27 shots Thursday. Tyree scored seven points. Davis scored three. Tyree was disconsolate in the locker room. Davis was deflated. The Rebels needed their All-SEC backcourt to carry them Thursday and they just didn’t get it done.
7. Bruce Stevens was good Thursday. He had 12 points but just one rebound. Good news for Ole Miss: Stevens rolled an ankle but he returned and finished the game. He said afterwards he’s fine and will be ready to go next week.
8. Davis and Tyree were a combined 2-for-15 in the first half, scoring just five points. Ole Miss led by 14. Devontae Shuler put on a first-half clinic, scoring 11 point on 5-for-6 shooting, playing stellar defense all the while. Shuler finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Shuler is going to be a star next season. Book that.
9. This is going to sound like spin, but I’m not sure Thursday was all bad for Ole Miss. The Rebels got a wake-up call. They didn’t handle the accolades they got this week. They’ll benefit from the physical break. No, it’s not as good as winning and advancing, but not all is lost.
10. Yes, I think Ole Miss is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. I think the Rebels are a 10-seed, which means they’ll play in either Jacksonville, Columbus, Des Moines or Columbia, S.C.