Alabama avenges regular-season loss to Ole Miss in SEC Tournament

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Tyler Waldrep

Early in the first half, senior Retin Obasohan picked up his second personal foul and was forced to take a seat, but instead of faltering without its No. 1 scorer the Alabama men’s basketball team had one of its best first halves of the season and took a 40-36 lead into the locker room at the half.

Taking the lead into the locker room didn’t stop coach Avery Johnson from giving his co-captain a few choice words during halftime.

“You know Retin and I go to church together,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t church language [I used at halftime]. We had to go back to the street.”

The pep talk, if it can be called that, seemed to do the trick. Obasohan returned to court in the second half and quickly began making up for lost time. He finished with a team-high 17 points despite not scoring a single point in the first half as Alabama beat Ole Miss 81-73.

“Believe it or not, it was kind of a blessing in disguise when he got in foul trouble,” Johnson said. “We were able to be on the lead with him on the bench. And it’s because of guys like Justin [Coleman] and Arthur [Edwards] taking and making big shots for us.”

Coleman and Edwards both scored 15 points to finish in double figures alongside Obasohan and teammate Riley Norris who finished the game with a double-double after grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with 16 points (most of which came from shooting 4-7 behind the arc).

“[My team] got me the ball when I was open,” Norris said. “You see the first one go in, you get a little more aggressive, and you want to shoot more and hopefully make it.”

Norris wasn’t the only player to knock down some 3-pointers. Five of his teammates made at least one, and at times it seemed as if Alabama couldn’t miss from beyond the arc as the Crimson Tide finished one 3-pointer shy of tying the school record for an SEC Tournament game.

Ole Miss’ Stefan Moody also had plenty of success beyond the arc, and at times Alabama’s defense seemed to have no effect on the guard. He finished 8-17 behind the arc and grabbed eight rebounds to go with his game-high 39 points.

Johnson said he reminded his guys during timeouts that they expected a good game from Moody.

“Probably four of those 3’s, man they were from the parking lot,” Johnson said. “What I wanted to say [to Moody] was I’m glad I don’t have to coach against you anymore in this SEC Tournament.”

Moody may be gone, but it doesn’t get any easier for Johnson’s team. Now Alabama will have less than 24 hours to prepare for a team it lost to twice this season, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Johnson said the team will benefit from playing the Wildcats twice this season. He hopes that experience will help him prevent Tyler Ulis from getting a double-double when the two teams meet at 6 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re a better team, and we’ve also matured [because of the last month],” Obasohan said. “I got complete faith in our coaching staff and [my] teammates that we have more than enough to go out there and give them our best shot.”