Preview: Mississippi at Alabama
Mississippi sits one game out of second place in the Southeastern Conference but cannot afford a slip-up when it visits Alabama on Tuesday. The Rebels enhanced their NCAA Tournament hopes with a narrow home win over Missouri on Saturday, the school's first victory over a team with a top-50 RPI rating. It was the latest in a string of nail-biters for Ole Miss, which has gone 7-4 in games decided by five points or fewer and prevailed in its last three such contests.
The Crimson Tide have dropped four in a row and six of their last seven games following Saturday's 78-69 setback at fourth-ranked Florida. Although offense has been an issue for much of the season, Alabama shot 55 percent Saturday, only to see the Gators connect on a scorching 62 percent of their shots to keep the Crimson Tide winless in 10 games away from home. The teams have split the series in 11 of the last 14 years, with Mississippi squeezing out a four-point home win in last season's only meeting.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI (16-7, 7-3 SEC): The Rebels won for the sixth time in eight games behind 29 points from Marshall Henderson, who knocked down eight of the team's 14 3-pointers against Missouri. Henderson is averaging 23 points over his last four games to boost his season total to a team-high 19.6 and is joined in double figures by Jarvis Summers (17.6), who is shooting 50 percent both overall and from behind the arc. Sophomore guard Ladarius White is becoming a reliable third scoring option, tying his season high with 16 points Saturday and averaging 13 in his last three.
ABOUT ALABAMA (9-14, 3-7): Although the Crimson Tide failed to reach 60 points in three consecutive games, they shot 61 percent in the first half and had Florida on the ropes early but were unable to keep pace after intermission. Senior guard Trevor Releford is coming off his eighth 20-point effort of the season, scoring 25 to move into 10th place on the school's all-time list with 1,702 points. "This program can't do anything but go up," Releford told reporters. "It's just a process. Right now we're losing a game, but I feel as a team we're getting better."
1. Henderson has hit at least one 3-pointer in 56 straight games, the third-longest streak in SEC history.
2. Alabama is 70-10 at home against Ole Miss.
3. The Rebels are averaging 12 fewer points (68.2) on the road than at home (80.2).
PREDICTION: Mississippi 71, Alabama 69