Not only was it Alabama’s first SEC road win since January of 2007 — a span of 18 games — it was the Crimson Tide’s most decisive SEC road win in 14 years.
It was so decisive and unexpected that Ole Miss players were not made available to speak afterward. We were told they were involved in something with head coach Andy Kennedy and that it wasn’t a matter of players hiding.
It looked like there was a lot of hiding on the court, however. The shooting percentages weren’t terrible, but the rebounding was, this from a team that has established itself as one of the better rebounding teams in the conference. I was surprised to look at the box score and see the Rebels were only outrebounded 43-31. It seemed like more. It probably was much more until the last 5 minutes of the game when the Rebels added some feel-good stats to the final tally.
Freshman Terrico White had 20 point on 8-for-16 shooting, 3-for-10 from 3, certainly not bad numbers by any stretch. But White had little or no help and was not able to single-handedly hit the shots or make the plays to squelch key Alabama runs late in the first half or mid-way through the second.
Kennedy talked about his players limping through the game. True, White and Zach Graham have been playing through knee injuries, but these injuries were no more evident during the game yesterday than they have been.
What was painfully evident was the lack of post play. Again, this isn’t new. Sophomore center Malcolm White doesn’t have good hands. His teammates don’t have the confidence to throw the ball inside, and his coach doesn’t try to.
It’s not only White. Murphy Holloway and DeAundre Cranston, like White, are players who might score with an offensive rebound or a loose ball, but they’re not back-to-the-basket guys.
So the Rebels are dependent upon Terrico White and Huertas to hit shots. When they do things open up in the middle, and then the post guys have a chance to become more involved.
When those guys aren’t hitting it’s a gigantic struggle as it was yesterday. It wasn’t so much about not hitting yesterday, as it was not keeping pace.
Collectively Ole Miss couldn’t stop Alabama at key times and gave up far too many offensive rebounds and second-chance points. The Tide had a 20-10 edge in second-chance points.