Alabama vs. No. 5 Kentucky
When: Friday, 6 p.m. CT
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
Records: Alabama 18-14, Kentucky 26-5
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 95.3 FM


 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Once again, it was a tale of two halves for Alabama basketball — but in a rare twist, it was the best of times for the Crimson Tide and a tale of woe for the opposing coach.

Alabama, seemingly headed for a quick and ugly first-round exit from the Southeastern Conference Tournament, went on a dominating second-half rally, erasing a 16-point deficit to stun Ole Miss 62-57. The victory advances Alabama into a second-round matchup with No. 5 Kentucky on Friday night.

“This team, when their backs were against the wall, they responded,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said.

There couldn’t have been more than a millimeter of space between that wall and Alabama’s spinal column at halftime, when Ole Miss held a 38-24 lead. Plagued by turnovers in the first half, UA looked out of sorts on offense and a step slow on defense.

But after the Rebels’ Blake Hinson made the first basket of the second half, Alabama responses with a 23-6 run powered by 10 points from Tevin Mack and seven by Kira Lewis to take a 47-46 lead.

Ole Miss battled back through four lead changes to regain the lead at 57-55 with 3:21 to play — but the Alabama defense shut out the Rebels for the rest of the game.

Lewis hit a game-tying layup with 1:33 to go. John Petty followed that with the game’s most spectacular play, a tip dunk with 1:06 remaining to give Alabama a lead, 59-57, that it never relinquished.

“We were throwing the ball all over Nashville in the first half,” Johnson said. “I told them in the locker room to see if we could have just five turnovers in the second half and we did. We did a lot of things well. We defended and we dominated the boards.”

Alabama outrebounded the Rebels 50-30 and held the Rebel stalwarts, guards Breein Tyree and Terrence Davis, to 10 combined points on 4-of-27 shooting.

“We knew in the first half we didn’t do the things we needed to do to get the stops we needed to have,” said Mack, who scored 21 points off the bench. “We decided to come out in the second half and be more aggressive, no matter what.”

Lewis added 13 points. Hall had seven points and 15 rebounds, while Galin Smith, a surprise starter, had 11 points and nine rebounds for Alabama, now 18-14.

“We’d been starting four potential 3-point shooters, trying to score in the 70’s and 80’s, and it hadn’t worked out for us so we decided to get back to some old style physical Alabama basketball,” Johnson said.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.


 

SCORING SUMMARY
Alabama 62, Ole Miss 57
Alabama (18-14)
Hall 3-6 1-3 7, Smith 4-8 3-8 11, Jones 0-3 0-0 0, Lewis 5-13 2-3 13, Norris 1-6 0-0 2, Reese 1-4 0-0 2, Ingram 1-4 2-2 4, Petty 1-2 0-0 2, A.Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Mack 8-13 1-2 21. Totals 24-59 9-18 62.

Ole Miss (20-12)
Stevens 5-6 0-0 12, T.Davis 1-11 0-0 3, Tyree 3-16 0-0 7, Shuler 6-13 1-2 14, Hinson 3-6 1-2 9, Buffen 4-8 0-0 8, Olejniczak 2-3 0-0 4, D.Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-63 2-4 57.

Halftime: Mississippi 38-24. 3-Point Goals: Alabama 5-17 (Mack 4-6, Lewis 1-4, Ingram 0-1, Petty 0-1, Reese 0-1, Norris 0-4), Mississippi 7-26 (Stevens 2-2, Hinson 2-4, Shuler 1-5, T.Davis 1-6, Tyree 1-8, Buffen 0-1). Fouled Out: Tyree, Buffen. Rebounds: Alabama 43 (Hall 15), Mississippi 29 (Shuler 7). Assists: Alabama 12 (Norris 5), Mississippi 11 (T.Davis 4). Total Fouls: Alabama 9, Mississippi 17. Technicals: Smith, Hinson.

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