Friday, March 11, 2016

Stayin' Alive, Alabama 81 Ole Miss 73

Raise your hand if you thought Alabama could score 40 points in a half, with 0 coming from Retin Obasohan.

Retin got in foul trouble early and had to head to the bench.  Justin stepped up and did a fantastic job of running the point and getting the ball to open shooters.  Those open shooters scorched the nets.  We ended up 12 of 24 from downtown, making 8 in the first half.  Retin came back in the second half and scored 17 points to hold of the Ole Miss comeback.

This was the best we have played in weeks.  Coach Johnson coached circles around Andy Kennedy.  We had 4 guys in double figures, Riley with 16, Art and Justin had 15 each to go along with Retin's 17.  Riley also added 11 rebounds, and while we did get out re-bounded, we at least kept it respectable on the boards.  Donta Hall was a beast with  5 blocked shots.  Brandon Austin even stepped up and played a great game, scoring 5 points and grabbing a couple of rebounds along with a steal in 15 minutes of playing time.  Shannon Hale didn't have a great game on paper, but I thought he did a solid job defensively and he had a huge block on an Ole Miss break away that really killed their momentum.

We played good defense as a team, but there is no shame in not being able to stop Stefan Moody.  He's an incredible player who single-handedly kept them in the game.  Dude was pulling up from 35 feet with a hand in his face like it was nothing.  He scored 39 of their points before fouling out.  I was glad to see Coach Johnson and Retin give him props after he fouled out.

The only negatives from this game were the same things that have plagued us all season.  We gave up 15 offensive rebounds and shot less than 50% from the free throw line.  We won't beat Kentucky doing that, but honestly, I'm not sure we can beat Kentucky no matter what we do.

With the win, we likely solidify our NIT bid.  There was some concern with a lot of the 1 seeds losing their conference tournament that we might get squeezed out, but I will be surprised if we aren't hosting a game next Tuesday.  With UAB losing to Western Kentucky, there's a pretty good chance we'll be matched up with the Blazers.

Up next, Kentucky.  It will be a de-facto road game with Big Blue Nation currently occupying Nashville.  A win would put us back into the NCAA tournament discussion, although I still think we would have work to do.  The game tips off at 6pm on the SEC Network.  I'm heading to Nashville after lunch, so I'll post a first-hand recap as soon as I get a chance, likely at some point tomorrow.

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