By John Zenor/The Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tony Mitchell scored 20 points and Alabama held off Ole Miss’ comeback attempt in a 74-64 victory over the Rebels on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (16-8, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) gave up most of a 23-point lead in the second half but managed to hold off the Rebels (16-9, 4-6) and end their three-game SEC winning streak.
Alabama made only six field goals in the second half after building a 47-27 halftime cushion but the league’s top defensive team limited Ole Miss to 36 percent shooting.
Chris Warren, the SEC’s No. 2 scorer, didn’t make a field goal until his 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:16 left for the Rebels. That cut it to 70-62 but it was too late.
JaMychal Green had 15 points, six blocked shots and three steals for the Tide. Trevor Releford added 14 points, seven assists and three more steals. Mitchell came off the bench in what coach Anthony Grant called a “coach’s decision” to make 8 of 13 shots and reach 20 points for the fourth consecutive game.
Warren hit only 2 of 10 baskets but the nation’s leading free throw shooter made 10 of 12 for the line to finish with 15 points. Zach Graham added 13 while Dundrecous Nelson hit three second-half 3-pointers to help spark the aborted rally and scored 11.
Warren moved past Carlos Clark’s 1,822 points for third in school history.
Nelson and Reginald Buckner, who was held to four points, both fouled out.
Warren hit four straight from the line to cut Alabama’s lead to 65-59 with 2:22 left.
Alabama’s Senario Hillman then drove for his only basket, drew a foul and hit the free throw. He made another from the line with 1:45 left to push it back to double digits. Green, Hillman and Releford combined to make 5 of 6 free throws after that.
The Rebels had cut the big deficit to 56-47 with a 15-1 run just 8 minutes into the second half. Nelson and Nick Williams hit back-to-back 3s to punctuate the surge and Nelson added another one with 10:50 left.
Alabama had only two field goals in the half before Green and Mitchell finally responded with consecutive putbacks. The Tide was 6-of-17 shooting after hitting 53 percent before halftime.
The Tide was playing two nights after having a five-game winning streak ended with an 81-77 loss at No. 23 Vanderbilt. Alabama, which has won 11 of its last 13 games, didn’t endure the same fate as last season when the Rebels overcame a 23-deficit to beat the Tide.
Mitchell came off for the bench for the second time in the past three games. He had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in just 10 minutes to pace Alabama to a 47-27 halftime lead, including a long jumper with 20 seconds for the final points of the half.
The game was tight until Mitchell came off the bench 6 minutes into the game right after Releford’s 3-pointer put Alabama up 14-9.
Alabama had made 5 of 29 3-pointers in its past two games, but was 5 of 9 at the half.
More in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.