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Alabama beats Ole Miss with last second shot by Releford

UMBball_UA002Alabama Men’s Basketball was in action at Coleman Coliseum tonight taking on the Ole Miss Rebels in their only home game in the next five-game stretch.  This was the first of the two meetings between the teams as the Tide’s five game stretch starts and ends with the Rebels with the second meeting coming on Feb. 26 at Ole Miss. However, the second meeting will be hard to top as Alabama’s Trevor Releford sinks a three-point basket with sixth-tenths of a second remaining to win the game 67-64.

The Crimson Tide is coming off a four game losing streak and dropping six of the last seven so a good win is what these players needed in order to regain some confidence. That is exactly what they got tonight even after dropping a 12 point lead and falling behind late in the second half. This season has seen the Crimson Tide on an emotional rollercoaster with a couple of big wins followed by a less than desirable road record.  Although Anthony Grant’s team has an RPI ranking of No. 2 with Kansas State being the only team with a more difficult schedule than Alabama, these players wanted to prove to themselves and to the fans that they are not done yet.

“This team needed a win,” Grant said. “We needed some positive momentum going our way. It’s great to be able to get this in the fashion that we did.”

The game started out with both teams swapping points but then Alabama went on a 13-0 run to take the lead 22-10 at the 11:30 mark of the first half. The Tide made a significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball, which is an area that has been strong for Alabama in previous season but seems to be the weak point this year.  Alabama managed to out-rebounded Ole Miss 23-18 and held the Rebels to a season-low 26 first half points to go in at the half up by seven 33-26.   UMBball_UA004

Shannon Hale had 12 points followed by Nick Jacobs with 10 after the first half, but the Tide excelled on the boards with Jacobs and Cooper both with five rebounds each.  Cooper would end the game with 10 rebounds and four points but the Alabama forwards played a significant role in the win tonight. The forwards combined for 37 of the Tide’s 67 points. Junior forward Nick Jacobs ended the game with 18 points and was two shy of a double-double with eight rebounds. Freshman forward Shannon Hale, while having a great first half played the supporting role in the second and ended with 15 points. Freshman forward Jimmie Taylor accounted for the other four points and three rebounds.  Alabama out rebounded Ole Miss 42-34 for the game.

Alabama continued their lead over Ole Miss in the second half but the margin kept getting smaller and smaller.  Alabama shot 45% to the Rebels 32% in the first half compared to shooting 38% to the Rebels 43% in the second half.  Alabama looked a little sloppy mid-way through the second half with missed passes, dropped balls and missed shots.  Ole Miss took the lead with nearly 10 minutes remaining in the game but both teams wouldn’t give in trading leads for the remainder of the game.  There were a total of seven lead changes and five ties in the game.

Trevor Releford had a quiet first half with only five points but he turned up the heat in the second to end the game with 26 points and the final game winning shot to seal the victory.  Releford’s effort in the second half was impressive, as usual, giving Alabama 14 of their last 16 points and helped to re-tie the score after losing the lead late and taking the lead back a couple of times.

In the final minutes of the game Alabama’s defense would stand strong on several trips down the court by the Rebels but Jarvis Summers and Marshall Henderson kept hitting the three pointers to make the game a nail-biter.

UMBball_UA007With less than 20 seconds remaining, Alabama’s Shannon Hale missed a three-point attempt and Ole Miss rebounds to drive down the court.  Jarvis Summers for Ole Miss had a good acting performance after being bumped by Releford drawing the foul sending Summers to the free-throw line and every fan to their feet.  Summers hits his two shots bringing the score to 64 all and 12 seconds remaining.

Releford brought the ball down the court, passed to Cooper, who immediately passed it back to Releford at the top of the key.  Then with nearly five seconds remaining, the ball leaves Releford’s hands headed to the basket.  Nothing but net, as the senior from Missouri drains the three-pointer and wins the game 67-64.UMBball_UA008

“That was a big time shot,” said Head Coach Anthony Grant. “In the second half, and really in the last 10 minutes of the game, Releford really stepped up and put the team on his back. He made some plays that were tremendous.”

“I’m glad the shot went in” Releford says, “Just to get that win and get the guys confidence back was huge for our team and going forward”.

Alabama improves to 10-14 (5-7 SEC), while Ole Miss falls to 16-9 (7-5 SEC).  Alabama is back in action on Saturday at South Carolina with tip-off set for 3 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on SEC TV.

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