In the hunt: SEC Tournament byes still in Rebels’ grasp

Alabama guard Retin Obasohan, left, attempts to get past OleMiss center Dwight Coleby during the first half. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Alabama guard Retin Obasohan, left, attempts to get past OleMiss center Dwight Coleby during the first half. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Marshall Henderson didn’t have the half of his life, but Martavious Newby had the half of his.

And that off-set a second-half surge by Alabama point guard Trevor Releford, something the Rebels were not able to overcome in Tuscaloosa but did Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum, winning 79-67 before a crowd of 7,165.

Newby had career highs of 15 points, 10 rebounds and 31 minutes.

The Rebels (17-11, 8-7 SEC) snapped a four-game losing streak and remain in a fourth-place jumble that will earn them a double bye in the league tournament if they finish fourth in the standings.

“Everybody thinks we’re down,” Newby said. “This made us remember what we did last year. We’ve got to win these games out.”

Henderson was held scoreless in the second half for the second straight game. He had 13 points in the first 20 minutes as Ole Miss (17-11, 8-7 SEC) built a 43-28 lead at the break.

That’s when Releford had only two points on 1-for-5 shooting. He opened the second half more aggressive than in the first, and while he had 14 points after halftime, it wasn’t quite the impact as when he scored 14 of Alabama’s last 16 points – including the game-winning 3 in the final seconds – on Feb. 11 at Coleman Coliseum.

Ole Miss mixed a healthy portion of man defense with the zones it’s played most of this season.

The Rebels held Alabama to 31.8 percent shooting in the first half, but the Crimson Tide (11-17, 5-10) got closer looks in the second when Releford was 5-for-9, and shot a collective 50 percent.

Defense

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy liked what he saw from his defense against Releford early.

“I thought we were really good in the first half. In the second half we got on our heels a little bit. They were in attack mode. He’s very good at getting in the seams, and he hurt us some with drives,” Kennedy said.

The man defense also helped Ole Miss improve its rebounding, and the Rebels finished plus-18 on the glass.

The Ole Miss lead peaked at 17 in the early seconds of the second half, but it was a six-point game with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left.

That’s when Jarvis Summers scored in the lane – his first field goal of the second half – and Henderson penetrated and passed out to Aaron Jones for an assist to push the lead to 70-59.

Summers finished with a team-high 20 points. He was 9-for-10 at the free throw line.

Alabama forward Shannon Hale led all scorers with 27 points.

Kennedy called Newby the MVP of the game.

“That’s the Martavious Newby we recruited, the guy we thought would be energy, and that’s what he was. He was all over the floor,” he said. “He was without question the energy component we were looking for.”

parrish.alford@journalInc.com