By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss honored its three seniors with a win in their final home game, as defensive energy lacking in Saturday’s loss at Mississippi State helped the Rebels build a cushion that was too large for Alabama to overcome.
Ole Miss withstood the Crimson Tide’s frantic rally to win 87-83 before 5,913 fans at Tad Smith Coliseum on Tuesday night.
The Rebels got contributions from a variety of sources, much as they did in winning six straight to open conference play.
Most notable was LaDarius White. The Tide had trouble guard White off the dribble and had trouble guarding Derrick Millinghaus on the perimeter.
White finished with 17 points, Millinghaus 11, the latter going 3-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Marshall Henderson was always lurking nearby. He got off to a slow start but adapted his game and began to put the ball on the floor, getting nine of his game-high 24 points from the free throw line. He was 6-for-14 from the floor, 3-for-7 from the arc.
Alabama, not known for its 3-point shot, went crazy at the end, knocking down 6-of-8 attempts over the last 1 minute, 53 seconds when Ole Miss had a 12-point lead.
Better at home
“The thing I was most proud of, I don’t understand why we can’t do it on the road, but offensively, we’re so much better in this building,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We were sharing the ball, attacking the basket. That’s was carried us. At the end we were just trying to get to the free throw line.”
While scoring was spread around it was defense that helped Ole Miss to its early advantage.
Alabama shot 38.5 percent in the first half, a time when the Rebels established control and limited guard Trevor Releford, Alabama’s leading scorer at 15.4 points a game, to three points on 1-for-2 shooting.
Releford would be heard from in the second half, but it was too little too late.
The Rebels (22-8, 11-6) built a 14-point first-half lead. The Tide cut that to seven points, only to see the Rebels surge ahead and make it a 37-25 lead the break.
Ole Miss stretched the lead to 19 early in the second half. Alabama’s (19-11, 11-6) press was at times troublesome, but the Rebels had an answer for every Tide run whether it was Holloway’s strong left hand with 8:40 left, a Henderson 3 at the 6:50 mark to push the lead back to 15 or Summers’ aggressive rebound in the paint with less than 4 minutes remaining.
“I think they made six of their last seven baskets. This is a team that shoots 30 percent from 3, and they go 12-for-20, but we had 87 (points) against the best defensive team in the SEC and one of the top five from an efficiency standpoint in the country,” Kennedy said.