Alabama vs. Ole Miss: Scoring updates, Twitter banter and what to know for SEC Hoops

Cecil Hurt
Tidesports.com

Three things to look for as Alabama (6-3) opens its Southeastern Conference basketball season against Ole Miss at Coleman Coliseum on Tuesday (8 p.m. SEC Network).

Roll Tide or Roll Call? 

Alabama started a different lineup in last week’s win over East Tennessee State but not entirely to shake things up after three early losses. Senior John Petty, a starter all season, and junior James Rojas did not dress for the ETSU game due to what Nate Oats has referred to as a “coach’s decision.” Oats confirmed on Monday that both players will be back in uniform against Ole Miss and both were in the pre-game shootaround. Alabama fans will be watching closely to see if the suspensions are over, and if the one-game absences served as a motivator. Petty, a preseason All-SEC choice, is below last season’s numbers in scoring (12.0 points after averaging 14.5 in 2019-2020, with a 3-point shooting percentage down from 44% to 28.3%). Rojas, who sat out last season, earned a start against Western Kentucky last Saturday but struggled badly, playing just 10 scoreless minutes after committing four first-half fouls.

Ole Miss off to solid start

The Rebels, a bit of a dark horse in the SEC, are ranked No. 33 nationally in the Ken Pomeroy ratings after a 5-1 start. The one thing that is missing on the Ole Miss résumé is a Top 100 win. Its only outing against Top 100 competition was a 65-62 loss at Dayton. The rest of the schedule has been iffy, but Ole Miss has dominated those teams defensively. The Rebels are No. 3 nationally in both turnover margin, forcing turnovers on 29% of opponent possessions, and 2-point field goal percentage. Devontae Shuler (14.6 points) is the leading scorer but the key for Ole Miss seems to be a low-ego, high-experience lineup.

Tide carrying a little momentum

East Tennessee State was not SEC-level competition, but Alabama did have one of its more effective offensive halves. Jaden Shackelford had 26 points and his 8-of-13 3-point shooting was like rain in the parched Sahara. Yale transfer Jordan Bruner scored eight points but added eight rebounds and four assists. Jahvon Quinerly had 14 points and, even better for UA, nine assists and there was good energy from Juwan Gary and Keon Ellis off the bench. That effort may affect Oats’ lineup choices against the Rebels.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt