A pregame skirmish between Ole Miss and Alabama sparked up near the far side of mid-court inside Coleman Coliseum about a half an hour before tipoff on Tuesday night. The two clubs crowded around each other as members of each coaching staffed stood in the middle diffusing the situation.
Terence Davis and Alabama guard John Petty exchanged words, as did Breein Tyree and Canton, Miss. native and Alabama guard Jovian-Davis Flemming — who did not play in the game.
Ole Miss clearly spent all of its emotional fuel in the warm-up laps, because what transpired on the floor in the Rebels’ 74-53 loss to the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night was devoid of it.
“I didn’t see any emotion,” Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said.” They said something happened in warmups or something. With the way we played tonight, if a fight broke out, God almighty, we would’ve had to have a lot of emergency people help our guys, because we would’ve lost the fight too. I promise you that.”
Lethargy was rampant from the jump. Blake Hinson scored the Rebels’ first five points of the game, quickly picked up two fouls and was confined to the bench for an extended stretch of minutes as a result. It’s really how the night went to the entire team. Alabama terrorized Ole Miss on the glass and in the paint. Donta Hall had 11 points with 10 rebounds (six offensive), and he let Bruce Stevens and Dominik Olejniczak know about it too. So did Herbert jones who added eight and nine boards.
Ole Miss got off to a 4-of-13 start from the field and fell behind early. It chipped away marginally as Breein Tyree and Terence Davis knocked down jump shots, but the lead swelled to double digits a second time late in the second half and the team came unglued. Alabama closed the half on a 13-2 run to take a commanding 42-26 lead. Terence Davis picked up his third foul with a minute remaining in the first half when he was issued a technical for taunting an Alabama defender. Davis ended up fouling out with 16:04 remaining in the game.
“It’s so immature,” Kermit Davis said.”I am not used to player technicals and that is why I just left him in to foul out. The guy has been in this league for four years and to act that way, we all got what we deserved tonight.”
The Tide out-rebounded the Rebels 44-32 in total and scored 23 points off 16 Ole Miss turnovers. The Tide scored 34 points in the paint. One team on the floor played as if it badly needed a win. The other looked befuddled as to how to react to the former’s energy.
“They played desperate tonight,” Kermit Davis said. “Those guys can play. You play Tennessee the way they did at Tennessee, your team is good. They have a physical team and they played well tonight. They moved the ball and came right at us in the paint. It was the physicality of the game. It was like boys playing against men tonight.”
Alabama out-hustled Ole Miss, as cliche as that sounds. But it is the ugly truth and it was glaringly visible.
“We had a mindset that we were refusing to lose,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “We had five guys on the floor for a loose ball. I have never seen that since I have been at Alabama.”
Terence Davis was the only player in double figures with 10 points despite being disqualified a little over halfway into the game. Kermit Davis rarely sits down during a game, but he took a seat with roughly 15 minutes remaining in the game as his team trailed by 25 points. There wasn’t much he could do at that point as the game had rapidly spiraled away from them. The Tide put together an extended 25-5 run on the Rebels, pummeling Ole Miss wouldn’t recover from.
Tuesday night’s loss was a bad look. Ole Miss was lethargic and came apart at the seams. But it’s only a single loss in a rugged SEC. The team sits at 14-4 (4-2), but the path doesn’t become any easier. Iowa State comes to Oxford on Saturday before the Rebels travel to Gainesville early next week. Mississippi State comes to Oxford the following Saturday. Ole Miss has done a good job rebounding after losses this season, which is exactly what it will have to do between now and Saturday morning.
“Iowa State may be the best offensive team in college basketball with the way they shoot threes and play,” Kermit Davis said. “It is going to be one heck of a match up. We will have to be at our very best. It will be a quick turnaround. Our guys will pick their head back up.”