By John Zenor
AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Trevor Releford brought Alabama to the brink of a much-needed win, and then delivered it.
Releford made a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 0.6 seconds left to lift the Crimson Tide to a 67-64 victory over Ole Miss on Tuesday night.
“We needed this one bad,” he said. “This was huge.”
The Tide’s top player took over down the stretch.
Releford scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half before delivering the final shot that helped snap a four-game losing streak for the Tide (10-14, 4-7 Southeastern Conference).
He accounted for 14 of Alabama’s 16 points over the final 5 minutes with an assist on the other basket.
Jarvis Summers had tied the game on two free throws with 13 seconds left for the Rebels (16-8, 7-4). Then Releford brought the ball across midcourt, passed once and got it right back.
He fired the ball over Ole Miss sharpshooter Marshall Henderson to deliver the win for a team that had dropped six of its last seven games.
“That was a big-time shot,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “In the second half, and really in the last 10 minutes of the game, he really stepped up and put the team on his back.
“He made some plays that were tremendous.”
Nick Jacobs added 18 points and eight rebounds for Alabama while Shannon Hale scored 15. Releford made 8 of 9 free throws.
Henderson led Ole Miss with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting from 3-point range after scoring 29 and hitting eight 3s in a win over Missouri. He missed his only attempt from inside the 3-point line while Alabama switched defenders up on him with big men and guards alike.
“We’ve seen almost everything as it relates to Marshall, and we challenged him,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “He shot three free throws in this game. That’s the first time he’s been to the free-throw line on the road in our last four games, and that was being fouled on a 3-point shot so it doesn’t really count.
“We told him if they’re doing that and you’ve got a big on you, you’ve got to drive to the basket. He chose to shoot 4 for 15.”
Anthony Perez added 13 points and LaDarius White had 10 points and eight rebounds.
“It was a tough, tough loss,” White said. “We had them, but they made more plays at the end. We’re a better team than them but they were a better team tonight.”
Releford’s two free throws with 1:11 left put Alabama up 64-58. Then Aaron Jones made 1 of 2 free throws and Perez saved an offensive rebound out to Henderson, who drilled a 3-pointer over Retin Obasohan.
Then Hale missed a 3-pointer and Ole Miss, down by two points, called a timeout with 17 seconds remaining to set up a play.
Releford fouled Summers, who made both but finished with nine points on 2-of-9 shooting.
“We were going to try and score as quickly as possible in case we missed,” Kennedy said. “We wanted to extend the game. We never even got to the action. Jarvis got tripped off the ball screen.”
“We all knew that the ball was going to go through Trevor Releford. He really carried them down the stretch, which is what a senior all-league player does.”
The Alabama guard, who had 25 points in a loss at No. 3 Florida, had beaten Georgia with a half-court shot last season.
He gave his struggling team something to celebrate.
“It was a lot of relief (for) the players,” Releford said. “We’ve been coming out and practicing hard, and we just needed a win. We deserved it.
“I’m happy for everybody on the team and glad we got the win.”