February 13, 2008

Alabama holds off Rebels for win

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- The ball drifted out of the Rebels' reach time and time again. Bad passes, errant dribbles and head-scratching decisions led to 16 turnovers.

If that wasn't bad enough, foul trouble limited Dwayne Curtis to just 17 minutes and three points.

The combination of all the errors badly outweighed any good, as Alabama kept the Rebels from a road win they desperately needed, handing Ole Miss a 76-67 loss.

With the loss, the Rebels fall even further back in the SEC West race. 67 points is a season low for the Rebels, coming against the SEC's second-worst defense.

The Rebels (17-6 3-6 SEC) have now lost three-consecutive SEC games and five-of-six last six in conference.

Things on the sideline didn't look pretty either, with shouting matches erupting more than once.

"I encouraged that, quite frankly. I may even have instigated it, just trying to get some emotion," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "I think emotion is a good thing. We were trying to find a way back into the game.

"We weren't fighting Alabama very good. I figured, why don't we fight ourselves. We needed to fight someone."

All things concerned, the game, much like Ole Miss' last SEC contest at Arkansas, was closer than it should've been.

After trailing by as many as 14 in the second half, the Rebels closed to four points late after Chris Warren hit the last of his three three-point shots.

Warren and David Huertas led the Rebels with 13 points each.

With the score 66-62, Warren guarded Brandon Hollinger as he brought up the ball. The ball came loose. With the ball on the floor, Warren dived at it, taking Hollinger out at the legs.

The ball stayed loose and rolled out of bounds, and the officials ruled it to be out off of Ole Miss. Irate, Kennedy had to be pulled back towards the Rebel bench by his staff before receiving a technical foul.

Making things even stranger, the call then was overturned.

"They said I got out of the box - the old, dreaded box," Kennedy said. "You know, it's funny. They reversed the call.

"I got a technical for being right."

After the technical foul, Mykal Riley hit a dagger three-point shot to make the lead eight and effectively end things. Riley led all scorers with 22 points. Five Alabama players finished with 10 points or more.

Another horrific start from the field made things rough on the Rebels early. Ole Miss had just two field goals in the games first seven minutes, trailing by 10.

"We came out real dead in the first half," senior Kenny Williams said. "I don't know why we're coming out dead like that or what the reason is for it."

But like at Arkansas, Ole Miss did enough to play itself back into the game before the half. With Curtis on the bench with foul trouble and Warren largely unproductive, Ole Miss' defense helped keep the game tight.

The Rebels went into the locker room trailing 32-28 after holding Alabama to 24.3-percent shooting in the half.

Ole Miss returns to Tad Smith Coliseum Saturday, as the Rebels try to avenge a loss suffered to Auburn back in January. The Rebels host the Tigers at 4 p.m.

"Mentally, we have to get it in our head," Curtis said. " We've got four left at home. I can see us turning it around."

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