Ole Miss will find out Sunday if it truly did enough in the regular season to earn an NCAA bid, because the Rebels didn’t help themselves in the SEC tournament.
No. 7 seed Ole Miss led by 15 points at halftime but gave it up quickly in the final half and lost 62-57 to No. 10 seed Alabama on Thursday in a second-round game at Bridgestone Arena.
All-SEC guards Terence Davis and Breein Tyree, who have accounted for 44.8 of the Rebels (20-12) scoring this season, combined for just 10 points on 4 for 27 shooting.
Devontae Shuler carried the Rebels to the first half lead and finished with 14 points.
Alabama (18-14) completely wiped out its deficit less than 7 minutes into the second half. From there neither team established control, but in the final minute the Crimson Tide made the plays on both ends.
As Davis and Tyree continued to miss shots the defensive energy changed, too.
“When our two all-league players quit shot-making, they quit guarding,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “We absorbed a lot, but we couldn’t absorb their physicality around the goal. That’s why the free throw difference was so great. We settled and settled, and those guys put it right in the paint.”
Davis said Tyree didn’t have a strong week of practice before the game.
“My shot wasn’t falling, and I let that get to me,” Tyree said.
“That’s a freshman thing to do. I was playing out of my game. When it counted most I didn’t show up. I feel like that was the worst game I’ve played in my career at Ole Miss, defensively especially.”
The Rebels had a 57-55 lead with 1 minute, 50 seconds left when Tyree missed a 15-foot jump shot.
Alabama then cleared a lane for Kira Lewis, and he got to the rim to tie it up.
On the next possession Davis’ cross-court pass was intercepted, and the Tide scored in transition to take a 59-57 lead.
Kermit Davis said he is confident his guards will play well again in a postseason path to be announced Sunday.
“Those guys have won us a ton of games this year, and they’ll bounce back,” Davis said.