May 1, 2016

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BLOG: Alabama bounces Rebels from SEC tournament

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ole Miss’ stay at the Southeastern Conference tournament was a short one, falling to Alabama 81-73 in its tournament opener Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Stefan Moody led all scorers with 39 points for the Rebels, but a significantly more balanced attack by Alabama did Ole Miss in. Retin Obasohan led four Crimson Tide players in double figures with 17 points while only one other Rebel — Tomasz Gielo with 11 — reached double figures.

Needing a run to Sunday’s championship game to even spark conversation about an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament, Ole Miss (20-12) will now wait to see if it gets an invite to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) when the field is announced Sunday night.

Moody blew past his SEC-leading 23.1-point average to match the second-highest single-game scoring total in tournament history in what could’ve been his final game in an Ole Miss uniform. Moody finished 12 of 27 from the field and 8 of 17 from 3-point range, but he didn’t have nearly enough help against the hot-shooting Crimson Tide (18-13).

Alabama, which finished the regular season ninth in the league in 3-point shooting (33.7 percent), made 50 percent (12 of 24) of its attempts from beyond the arc and took control midway through the second half. Justin Coleman’s 3-pointer capped a 9-0 spurt with 8:03 left to give Alabama its biggest lead at 66-52 with Ole Miss getting no closer than six the rest of the way in its second straight one-and-done showing in the tournament.

Obasohan, Alabama’s leading scorer, scored all of his points in the second half. Riley Norris went 4 of 6 from deep on his way to 16 points while Arthur Edwards and Coleman each scored 15. Alabama shot 53 percent from the field while the rest of Ole Miss’ team combined for just 14 field goals.

Alabama knocked down eight of its first 13 3-pointers to make a run in the first half without Obasohan, who picked up two fouls less than five minutes in. Norris had three of those treys as the Tide went on an 18-7 run with Obasohan watching from the bench to go up 26-19 midway through the first half.

Ole Miss stayed close thanks to Moody, who scored 17 of his points in the first 20 minutes with no other Rebel scoring more than eight in the half. Five of Moody’s first six field goals came from deep, his final 3 cutting Alabama’s lead to 40-36 at the break.

See Friday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage of Thursday’s game.