Huge Comeback Propels Rebs To Win Over Tide
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Facing a 23-point deficit with 19 minutes remaining, the No. 25 Ole Miss Rebels appeared finished in the drive for an SEC Western Division title and NCAA Tournament berth.
Ole Miss answered the challenge with an unlikely 74-67 comeback win Saturday over Alabama. The turnaround left head coach Andy Kennedy shaking his head in the postgame press conference.
"We just could not afford to drop this game," said Kennedy, who Rebels (17-6, 5-4) remain one-half game off the division leader Arkansas. "I wish I could tell you that it was something I said at halftime that turned it around, but it wasn't. It was about our players."
Chris Warren scored 21 points while Terrance Henry had a career-best 20 points and eight rebounds as the Rebels dominated the final 19 minutes. Ole Miss shot 15-of-25 from the field, 60 percent, in the second half and had only one turnover.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Ole Miss, who played for a second successive game without starting forward Reginald Buckner, nursing a foot injury.
"Terrance had a huge game," Kennedy said. "We really needed it. We had lost two in a row and have a crucial road game at Mississippi State on Thursday."
The loss was devastating for Alabama (13-10, 3-6), who was coming off successive one-point losses to Auburn and Florida. The Crimson Tide, led by JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, with 18 and 16 points, respectively, led 40-20 at halftime.
"Today was a microcosm of what we've experienced all season," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "We've not shown the ability to handle adversity. We knew Ole Miss would fight in the second half. You have to fight back."
Chris Hines hit a jumper with 19:19 left to give Alabama a seemingly insurmountable 43-20 edge. With nine minutes remaining, the Crimson Tide still held a 56-45 lead before the decisive rally.
Ole Miss went on a 14-0 run, highlighted by a go-ahead tip-in from Terrico White for a 58-56 lead with 6:11 left. Alabama never regained the lead, but pulled within 66-64 on a dunk by Mitchell with 2:12 left.
Ole Miss answered on a dunk by Henry and allowed only one other Alabama basket the rest of the way. Warren, White and Henry combined to hit free throws in the final 28 seconds to complete the comeback.
"Wins like this give you confidence. I won't say it's a statement game, but it's important," Warren said. "You've got to give them credit for getting on us, but we never lost confidence that we would come back and get it."
Alabama finished 24-of-48, 50 percent, from the field, including 6-of-13 from three-point range. The Crimson Tide had 14 turnovers and were out rebounded 33-29.
"There are times you feel helpless as a coach," Grant said. "You saw it and it leaves you scratching your head."
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