Alabama's outside game upsets Mississippi 81-73 in SEC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Some of the back and forth between Mississippi and Alabama had to be seen to be believed as Rebels senior guard Stefan Moody coolly sank 3-pointers to answer Alabama's proficiency from long range.
Moody was impressive enough to earn a standing ovation from fans of both schools along with a handshake from Alabama coach Avery Johnson, who lavishly praised the Crimson Tide for teaming up for an 81-73 victory that countered his 39-point performance.
Johnson called Moody a joy to watch and fierce competitor but noted, ''What I wanted to say was I'm glad that I don't have to coach against you anymore in this SEC tournament.''
Johnson can thank Alabama's all-in effort for that.
Retin Obasohan scored all 17 points in the second half, Riley Norris added 16 and 10th-seeded Alabama made 12 3-pointers to upset No. 7 seed Mississippi in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Needing to go deep this weekend to improve its NCAA Tournament prospects, Alabama (18-13) took an important first step behind impressive offense, especially from outside. Norris got the Crimson Tide started from long range and finished with four 3-pointers before Obasohan bounced back from early foul trouble to help them finish 28 of 53 (52.8 percent) from the field.
''You see the first one go in,'' Norris said, ''you get a little more aggressive and you want to shoot more and hopefully make it.''
That kind of scoring offset the outstanding play of Moody, who tied for the second-most points in SEC tournament history.
Moody certainly was the attraction as he made 12 of 27 from the field, including 8 of 17 from behind the arc. His second 30-point effort in three games came within three points of the SEC mark shared by Kentucky's Melvin Turpin and Cliff Hagan and had Alabama wary of him all night.
''Some of that is my job,'' the 5-foot-10 guard said of the workload. ''I embrace that. I don't look at my teammates and complain at them for anything. ... So, I do what I can.''
If the Rebels (20-12) had a little more scoring to complement Moody, they might have beaten an Alabama team that got points from eight of nine players. Mississippi made 11 3-pointers but needed a lot more on a night in which 39 percent shooting helped end its two-game winning streak.
''Ultimately, Alabama just made more plays,'' Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said.
Arthur Edwards and Justin Coleman each added 15 points as Alabama advanced to Friday's quarterfinal against No. 2 seed Kentucky.
Norris also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Tide shot above 50 percent in both halves and made 14 assists on its 28 baskets.
Alabama spotted Mississippi six points but quickly got in the game behind its perimeter game surprisingly led by Norris, who entered the game averaging 7.5 points but hitting nearly 38 percent from deep. Alabama ended the half with one more basket from behind the arc (eight) than inside (seven) and a 40-36 lead, and the Tide were just getting started.
Not to be outdone, Moody answered early and often for the Rebels with five of their seven long-range jumpers for 17 points that kept them close. It also set the tone for an entertaining game in which both teams seemed willing to trade baskets from outside - way outside, even - and weave in two-pointers as an alternative.
Alabama continued making long shots but also dropped in some with 2s behind leading scorer Obasohan, who bounced back from a scoreless first half and matched his season average.
''It was kind of a blessing in disguise when he got in foul trouble,'' Johnson said. ''We were able to get the lead with him on the bench. And it's because of guys like Justin and Arthur taking and making big shots for us.''
Alabama: The Crimson Tide committed just nine turnovers. ... Their bench outscored the Rebels 30-14.
Mississippi: Marcanvis Hymon had a team-high nine rebounds while Moody grabbed eight as the Rebels outrebounded Alabama 43-35.
Alabama: Faces No. 2 seed Kentucky in Friday's quarterfinals.
Mississippi: Awaiting postseason destination.