OXFORD – The magical SEC run for youthful, inexperienced Ole Miss appears to be complete – or at least suspended.
After a dreadful half at Auburn in a 13-point mid-week defeat, the Rebels dropped their second straight Saturday, hammered at home by Alabama 90-69 before 7,862 fans at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Players were not made available for interviews following the Rebels’ second SEC home loss of 20-plus points this season.
The Crimson Tide, in fairness, has shown improvement of late under interim coach Phillip Pearson and has now won three straight.
But the Tide had given no indication it was ready to shoot 50 percent on the road – coming in with a 18-game road losing streak and not winning since a trip to Baton Rouge in 2007 – against a team that had played decent defense of late. That’s what happened in the first half, though.
Alabama’s best player, senior swing man Alonzo Gee, went to the bench with two fouls roughly 4 minutes into the first half, and the Tide was sparked by former Itawamba Community College star Anthony Brock, a 5-foot-9 guard from Little Rock.
Brock, who wasn’t getting much playing time from former coach Mark Gottfried, burned the Rebels with 14 points in 11 minutes in the first half, hitting 3-pointers from the key and the left wing. He was 5-for-6 from the floor, 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and finished with 17 points.
It was Alabama’s biggest margin of victory on the road in 14 years.
‘We have our issues’
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who did speak, and talked about lost practice time due to injuries and illness.
“I wish I could tell you I saw this coming, but I didn’t see it coming. We have our issues. You saw just as visibly as I did players limping around at the end of the game. It’s a challenge for me, because we obviously have a number of areas we need to practice on to get better.”
Freshman Terrico White, who led the Rebels with 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting, and sophomore Zach Graham have played through knee injuries most of the SEC season.
When the dust settled the Rebels had hit a few late buckets to make things closer. Alabama had a 43-31 edge on the glass and cooled to 46.8 percent.
The Tide’s lead peaked at 30 points with 9:37 remaining.
Alabama surged ahead early in the first half, but the Rebels (15-13, 6-8 SEC) regrouped and led 24-23 after Terrico White drove through the lane and dunked, but Brock led the Crimson Tide (16-12, 6-8 SEC) on a 26-9 run to close the half.
When the shots didn’t drop Alabama was there for the offensive rebound and had a 23-14 edge on the glass in the half.
The Ole Miss crowd sat stunned as the Tide scored eight points in the last 1:13 to send the message that it wouldn’t be a first-half wonder.
“Our defense was good early on. The key to the game was the spurt we had before halftime, a good little spurt there and made some shots,” Pearson said. “Brock really shot it well for us then.”
Parrish Alford/Daily Journal