Alabama Men’s Basketball Drops Conference Opener to Ole Miss, 74-66
The Alabama men’s basketball team began conference play with a loss at Ole Miss (11-3, 1-1 SEC). The Crimson Tide controlled the first half but let the game get away in the second thanks to being outscored 42-26 after the break.
“We played a great first half, but struggled in the second half,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “We went into the locker room with an eight point lead, but in these bigger games our Achilles heel has been coming out in the second half. We used a timeout early to try and get our team settled down. We had seven turnovers in the first half and 12 in the second half. We didn’t do a good job rebounding. We don’t make excuses, we don’t complain. We are a hard hat team, we just didn’t do a good job in the second half.”
The Rebels, opening their new facility, The Pavilion at Ole Miss, took an early 25-15 lead on the back of a 7-0 run and 6-of-8 free throw shooting. Alabama (9-4, 0-1 SEC) responded with a 25-7 run over the last 8:36 of the first half to take a 40-32 lead. Senior guard Retin Obasohan and graduate transfer Arthur Edwards each scored 14 points in the opening frame. The Tide defense held Ole Miss to just 33 percent shooting and recorded five steals.
Alabama came out cold in the second half and allowed the Rebels to tie the game at 44 with a 12-4 run over the first six minutes. Ole Miss would spark an 11-0 run a few minutes later to take a 59-52 advantage with 6:55 to play. The Tide stayed close and pulled within two points, down 65-63 with 2:59 on the clock, but a 6-0 run from the Rebels would see Alabama fall eight points back with just 1:26 left.
The Tide defense finished with 10 steals and seven blocks, but got into foul trouble early. Four players were each charged with four fouls and Donta Hall fouled out after swatting four shots.
Alabama made nine three-pointers as Edwards matched his career high with five. Edwards joined Obasohan in matching their career highs in scoring. Obasohan put up 23 points to lead Alabama and Edwards added 17. Michael Kessens, who led the team with seven rebounds, scored 10 points.
Sebastian Saiz had game highs in points and rebounds. The Rebels’ big man scored 21 and grabbed 16 boards. Stefan Moody also totaled 21 points.
The Tide returns home to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 9 to play No. 9/8 Kentucky. Tipoff against the Wildcats is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network. Alabama is 2-1 against ranked teams this season and has won three of the last four matchups against Kentucky at home.