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February 27, 2010

Tide blows another second-half lead, loses 76-73 to Ole Miss

TUSCALOOSA _ About the only thing that was new for the University of Alabama men's basketball team Saturday was that it discovered yet another way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Despite having another double-digit lead in the second half, the Crimson Tide saw it quickly vanish as Ole Miss managed to pull out a 76-73 victory to continue Alabama's late-season spiral. Not only was it the second time this season that the Rebels came back to beat the Tide, it was UA's seventh loss in eight games.

"Ole Miss came and shot the three really well," Coach Anthony Grant said. "I thought that was the difference in the game."

The loss squandered what may have been a breakout performance for junior guard Charvez Davis, who made five 3-pointers to tie senior guard Mikhail Torrance for the team lead with 19 points, a career best. Sophomore forward JaMychal Green added in 14 points and seven rebounds, while junior forward Justin Knox had 10 of his 12 points in the first half.

"I was just shooting the ball when I'm open and my teammates did a good job finding me," Davis said.

But at times the game strongly resembled a 3-point shooting contest as the teams combined to launch 49 shots from beyond the arc. The Rebels made 12 of 25 attempts, including a key late bucket by guard Terrico White, while Alabama was 8-for-24.

That contributed to it becoming a game of runs, like during a seven-minute stretch in the first half when Ole Miss' only four baskets were all 3-pointers, the last of which tied the game, 21-21. White beat the halftime buzzer with his third 3-pointer, but Alabama still held a 33-31 lead.

The Tide came out of the locker room to go on a 12-0 run run, with Green pulling off two 3-point plays with forward DeAundre Crasntson on the bench in foul trouble, but Ole Miss quickly countered with a 12-0 run of its own to take a 49-48 lead, thanks in part to two Trevor Gaskins 3-pointers.

That, with Alabama having a limited bench and junior guard Senario Hillman suspended (
"A poor choice that he made," Grant said. "Completely basketball issue"), set up the final few minutes when the lead went back and forth, changing hands three times in the final minute alone.

White's 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go gave Ole Miss a 74-72 lead, when Torrance missed on a drive and Green was fouled with 9.8 remaining. He missed the first free throw but made the second, and with no time to spare fouled guard Chris Warren, who showed why he's an 83 percent free-throw shooter.

Torrance passed on taking the Tide's last shot, which Tony Mitchell missed. The play was actually intended for Charvez.

"He was wide open," Torrance said. "I have confidence that he can make shot."

However, the broken-record season skipped on. Earlier this season it blew a 23-point second half lead at Ole Miss, a 13-point lead to Georgia, and late leads against Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

"There were similarities but it all comes down to us getting stops at the end of the game," Davis said. "That's all we need to do. We have to come into practice next week and work on our defense and getting stops late in the game."

Consequently, Alabama fell to .500 overall (14-14), 4-10 in SEC play heading into the last week of the regular season. Grant said that there's a chance Hillman would return Wednesday at South Carolina.

Ole Miss, which had lost five of its last six to severely hurt its NCAA Tournament chances, improved to 19-9 (7-7 SEC).

"There have been other games that we had leads, late games that we were able to close out," Grant said. "This one I thought could go either way."


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