Columbia’s Mack, Irmo’s Shuler shine in SEC Tournament
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — John Petty stuffed in a putback with a minute left to put Alabama ahead for good as the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide rallied and kept their postseason hopes alive Thursday with a 62-57 Southeastern Conference Tournament victory over Mississippi.
Alabama snapped a three-game skid by producing its biggest comeback of the season, as the Tide trailed the seventh-seeded Rebels by 16 in the opening minute of the second half. Alabama scored the final seven points of the game.
The Tide (18-14) advance to an SEC quarterfinal Friday against No. 4 Kentucky, the No. 2 seed in this tournament. Alabama beat Kentucky 77-75 on Jan. 5 in the SEC opener for both teams.
Alabama may need to beat Kentucky again to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, while Ole Miss (20-12) likely will go dancing even after Thursday night’s collapse. At the start of the day, Ole Miss was 36th and Alabama 59th in the NET rankings that have replaced the RPI as a NCAA Tournament selection criterion.
Ole Miss led 40-24 in the opening minute of the second half before Alabama rallied and took a 44-43 lead when a Kira Lewis Jr. layup capped a 13-0 run with 13:14 left.
The lead went back and forth several times from there until Alabama went on its closing run.
Lewis tied the game at 57-all on a driving layup with 1:34 remaining. Lewis then got a steal and missed a layup attempt on the other end, but Petty got the offensive rebound and dunked to put Alabama ahead for good.
Bruce Stevens and KJ Buffen both missed on Ole Miss’ next possession, and Galin Smith made a free throw to extend Alabama’s lead to 60-57 with 41 seconds left.
After Devonate Shuler missed a potential tying 3-point attempt, Alabama’s Dazon Ingram sank two free throws to cap the scoring with 20 seconds remaining.
Alabama: A gritty performance in the second half enabled Alabama to overcome a woeful performance from the free-throw line. Alabama was 9 of 18 on free-throw attempts.
Ole Miss: Leading scorer Breein Tyree never got anything going Thursday, as he shot 3 of 16 overall and 1 of 8 from 3-point range to finish with seven points. Tyree symbolized Ole Miss’ game-long frustrations from beyond the arc, where they shot just 7 of 26.
Irmo’s Devontae Shuler finished with 14 points to lead Ole Miss, while Columbia’s Tevin Mack lead all scorers with 21.
Alabama faces No. 4 Kentucky in an SEC quarterfinal Friday.
Ole Miss should expect to receive an NCAA Tournament bid on Sunday.