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Alabama (20-9) at Ole Miss (17-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 4:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tad Smith Coliseum (9,061) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Alabama 13-3, Ole Miss 11-2. Away Record: Alabama 4-6, Ole Miss 4-8. Neutral Record: Alabama 3-0, Ole Miss 2-2. Conference Record: Alabama 9-6, Ole Miss 7-8. Series Record: Alabama leads, 117-52.
GAME NOTES: The Alabama Crimson Tide look to close out the regular season with a fifth consecutive win Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum as the Rebels of Ole Miss play host to a Southeastern Conference showdown.
Alabama stretched its win streak to four games Wednesday with a solid 55-49 victory at home over rival Auburn. The win left the Crimson Tide in a tie for fourth place in the league standings at 9-6 alongside Tennessee fighting for the final bye in the upcoming SEC Tournament. It was a gritty win for Alabama Thursday, as Auburn stuck close to the Tide throughout until the hosts put things away at the free-throw line with a 6-for-8 showing over the final 1:23. The Crimson Tide needed to hit their free throws, and did (24-for-32) on a night where they shot just 31.1 percent from the field. Senior JaMychal Green put forth a solid effort with his 25th career double-double, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Trevor Lacey added 10 points for the victors.
Ole Miss earned a second straight win at Arkansas Tuesday and in dramatic fashion as senior Terrance Henry's three-point play with 8.2 seconds remaining capped a comeback from down 15 in the second half. The Rebels' 77-75 triumph left them in a three-way tie for sixth in the SEC, continuing to fight for postseason positioning alongside LSU and Mississippi State. Henry ended with 19 points for the visitors while freshman Jarvis Summers was clutch with all but one of his 17 points coming in the second half. Murphy Holloway asserted himself with a monster double-double of 16 points and 16 boards as Ole Miss outrebounded Arkansas, 44-35.
Alabama holds an overwhelming 117-52 advantage in the all-time series and captured a thrilling 69-67 win in double overtime Feb. 4 in Tuscaloosa. However, these two clubs have split their season series 10 of the last 13 years, including last season when the Rebels logged a 68-63 victory in Oxford. Ole Miss has won 11 of the last 14 meetings at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The Crimson Tide possess a good balance that allows it to compete on a nightly basis inside one of the country's strongest conferences. While the offense doesn't wow you, the Tide put up a brick wall on defense in surrendering a league-low 57.8 points per game. Teams are allowed to shoot only 38.5 percent from the field, second to only Kentucky, while Alabama connects at a healthy 45.3 percent of its field goals. The Crimson Tide average 65.6 ppg on that percentage but are also buoyed by the SEC's second-best free-throw shooting percentage at 71.2 percent. The Tide's plus-7.7 scoring margin is also among the best in the conference behind only Kentucky, Florida and Vanderbilt. Green is at the head of the offense for 'Bama with a 13.9-point average and 54.0 shooting percentage to go along with 7.1 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Trevor Releford is a solid second option, averaging 12.0 ppg, a team-leading 2.9 assists and posting a 47.9 shooting percentage. Andrew Steele kicks in 7.1 ppg and shoots 52.6 percent from the floor. Alabama has a decent edge on the glass overall with a plus-2.5 margin (35.3-32.8).
The Rebels feature a trio of double-digit scoring options in Henry at 12.4 ppg, Holloway (11.2 ppg) and Nick Williams (10.3 ppg). Holloway also tops the roster in rebounding at 8.9 per contest -- good for third in the SEC -- while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor. Summers and Reginald Buckner play big roles in the Rebel offense as well, the former averaging 9.8 ppg and a team- high 3.2 assists while the latter grabs 8.3 boards, shoots 52.6 percent from the field and kicks in 6.8 ppg. Overall, the Rebels post 66.3 ppg but on only 43.1 percent shooting, while buckling down to allow a meager 40.7-percent shooting clip to pair with 65.9 ppg against. Ole Miss is among the league's best in rebounding, securing 38.3 caroms per contest while holding a plus-3.3 margin (38.3-35.1). One area of great concern is the Rebels' free-throw shooting which stands at 60.1 percent on the year -- easily dead last in the SEC.
Alabama wins ugly, but wins ugly often and continues to find ways to climb the SEC ladder. Ole Miss is no slouch and should put up a good fight at home to close the regular season, but the Crimson's defense figures to turn the tide once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 66, Ole Miss 62
03/03 10:37:03 ET
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