John Petty stuffed in a putback with a minute left to put Alabama ahead for good as the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide rallied and kept their postseason hopes alive Thursday with a 62-57 SEC Tournament victory over Ole MIss.
Alabama snapped a three-game skid by producing its biggest comeback of the season, as the Tide trailed the seventh-seeded Rebels by 16 in the opening minute of the second half. Alabama scored the final seven points of the game.
The Tide (18-14) advance to an SEC quarterfinal Friday against No. 2 seed Kentucky. Alabama beat Kentucky 77-75 on Jan. 5 in the SEC opener for both teams.
Alabama may need to beat Kentucky again to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, while Ole Miss (20-12) likely will go dancing even after Thursday night’s collapse. At the start of the day, Ole Miss was 36th and Alabama 59th in the NET rankings that have replaced the RPI as a NCAA Tournament selection criterion.
Ole Miss led 40-24 in the opening minute of the second half before Alabama rallied and took a 44-43 lead when a Kira Lewis Jr. layup capped a 13-0 run with 13:14 left.
The lead went back and forth several times from there until Alabama went on its closing run.
Lewis tied the game at 57-all on a driving layup with 1:34 remaining. Lewis then got a steal and missed a layup attempt on the other end, but Petty got the offensive rebound and dunked to put Alabama ahead for good.
After Devonate Shuler missed a potential tying 3-point attempt, Alabama’s Dazon Ingram sank two free throws to cap the scoring with 20 seconds remaining.
Alabama: A gritty performance in the second half enabled Alabama to overcome a woeful performance from the free-throw line. Alabama was 9 of 18 on free-throw attempts.
Ole Miss: Leading scorer Breein Tyree never got anything going Thursday, as he shot 3 of 16 overall and 1 of 8 from 3-point range to finish with seven points. Tyree symbolized Ole Miss’ game-long frustrations from beyond the arc, where they shot just 7 of 26.
Alabama faces No. 2 seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals, Friday at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network.