Retin Obasohan scored all 17 points in the second half, Riley Norris added 16 and 10th-seeded Alabama made 12 3-pointers to upset No. 7 seed Mississippi 81-73 Thursday night in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Needing to go deep this weekend to improve its NCAA Tournament prospects, Alabama (18-13) took an important first step behind impressive offense, especially from outside. Norris got the Crimson Tide started from long range and finished with four 3-pointers before Obasohan bounced back from early foul trouble to help them finish 28 of 53 (52.8 percent) from the field.
That kind of scoring helped counter the Rebels’ Stefan Moody, whose 39 points tied for the second-highest single game total in SEC tournament history.
Arthur Edwards and Justin Coleman each added 15 points as Alabama advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal against No. 2 seed Kentucky.
Ole Miss (20-12) made 11 3-pointers but shot just 39 percent in having its two-game winning streak stopped.
Norris also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Tide shot above 50 percent in both halves and made 14 assists on its 28 baskets.
Both teams looked to get their NCAA Tournament quests started on a good note and ended up providing one of the more entertaining games of the tournament.
Moody wasn’t a one-man show but was the main attraction as he made 12 of 27 from the field, including 8 of 17 from behind the arc. He left the game to a standing ovation from fans and a handshake from first-year Alabama coach Avery Johnson after coming within three points of the SEC record shared by Melvin Turpin and Cliff Hagan.
The Rebels just didn’t have enough scoring to complement Moody, while the Crimson Tide got contributions from eight of nine players.
Alabama spotted Mississippi six points but quickly got in the game behind its perimeter game surprisingly led by Norris, who entered the game averaging 7.5 points but hitting nearly 38 percent from deep.
Norris came out firing with three long-range baskets to get things rolling, and teammates soon joined in. Most important for the Crimson Tide was that those long shots were falling, which not only helped them rally from a 10-3 deficit but eventually seize momentum.
Alabama made one more basket from behind the arc (eight) than inside (seven) and led 40-36 at the break, and that was just the beginning.
Not to be outdone, Moody answered early and often for the Rebels with five of their seven long-range jumpers for 17 points that kept them close. It also set the tone for a game in which both teams were determined to trade baskets from outside — way outside, even — and weave in two-pointers as an alternative.
Alabama continued making long shots but also succeeded with 2s behind leading scorer Obasohan, who bounced back from a scoreless first half. The Tide eventually built a 66-52 lead with eight minutes left and stayed safely ahead from there.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports