A loss Tuesday would’ve been the fifth straight defeat for Alabama and the longest losing spell in Anthony Grant’s five seasons as head coach. Trevor Releford wouldn’t let it happen.
Releford scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half, including a long, game-winning 3-pointer with .6 seconds left in the Crimson Tide’s 67-64 victory over Mississippi.
Alabama (10-14, 4-7 Southeastern Conference) snapped a four-game losing streak in beating the Rebels at home for the third consecutive time. Without Releford it wouldn’t have been possible.
The senior guard was held to just two field goals and five total points in the opening half, but knocked down a 3-pointer at the 17:14 mark of the second, then hit another bucket a minute later. Later, Releford’s nifty, behind-the-back pass led to a lay up for two of Nick Jacobs’ 18 points and the Tide led 47-40.
The visiting Rebels, who fell to 16-8 overall and 7-4 in league play, got four points each from Derrick Millinghaus and Anthony Perez during an 11-0 run that gave Mississippi a 51-47 lead with 9:15 remaining in the game.
Releford took over from there, scoring 13 points over the next seven minutes and the hosts led 64-58 with just over a minute to play.
Mississippi wasn’t finished just yet, getting a four-point possession when Aaron Jones went 1 of 2 from the free-throw line and on the miss, Perez chased down the loose ball and while falling out of bounds found Marshall Henderson for a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 64-62 with 57 seconds left.
Jarvis Summers’ perfect trio to the line tied the game at 64-64 before Releford took a pass from Rodney Cooper and calmly drained the winning three from well beyond the three-point arc.
Alabama had a 13-0 run over a 3 1/2 minute stretch in the opening half to turn a one-point deficit into a 12-point lead. Jacobs put back his own miss and added a jump hook, part of eight early points for the junior forward, and Shannon Hale hit a 3-pointer and a long 2-pointer, which capped the spurt that put the hosts up 22-10 at the 11:48 mark.
Mississippi got going from long range, hitting three from behind the arc to get within 24-19.
Jacobs and Hale, who combined for 22 first-half points, each had a put back down the stretch and the Crimson Tide led 33-26 at halftime.
Henderson led Mississippi with 14 points, but the SEC’s third-leading scorer missed 11 of his 15 field goal attempts. Releford, Jacobs and Hale (15 points) combined for 59 of Alabama’s 67 points.
Other SEC and ACC games from Tuesday…
No. 3 Florida 67, Tennessee 58
The Gators led by just one point with 4 1/2 minutes left, but finished strong to remain unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play.
Host Tennessee (15-9, 6-5) got to within 55-54 on Jarnell Stokes’ three-point play with 4:32 to go in the game. Starting with Michael Frazier’s 3-pointer and including eight of Scottie Wilbekin’s game-high 21 points, Florida finished the game on a 12-4 run.
Florida (22-2, 11-0), one of the top shooting teams in the SEC, made only 36 percent from the field Tuesday, but its defense, sixth nationally in scoring defense, held its 14th opponent under 60 points.
Stokes paced the Vols with 20 points.
N.C. State 82, Wake Forest 67
T.J. Warren scored a career-high 34 points as the Wolfpack avenged a loss to the Demon Deacons a month ago.
Warren, the leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference, hit 15 of 26 shots and added 10 rebounds for N.C. State (16-8, 6-5) which lost 70-69 at Wake Forest January 15.
Ralston Turner added 16 points for the Wolfpack, who defeated Wake at home for the ninth straight time.
Codi Miller-McIntyre, playing on an injured ankle for the first time since February 1, led Wake Forest (14-10, 4-7) with 15 points and seven assists.
Notre Dame 68, Clemson 64 (2 OT)
Steve Vasturia’s second 3-pointer of the second overtime put the Fighting Irish up for good in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
K.J. McDaniels’ lay up had given Clemson (15-8, 6-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 64-63 lead before Vasturia connected from the corner for the last of his 11 bench points, making it a 66-64 game with one minute to go.
The visiting Tigers trailed by four late in the first overtime, but Rod Hall converted a lay up and Landry Nnoko had a steal and hit two free throws at the other end to even things up at 60-60.
Notre Dame (13-12, 4-8) lost a seven-point lead in the final 2 1/2 minutes of regulation, thanks in large part to three turnovers. Rod Hall had a chance to put Clemson up one with four seconds to play, but made just 1 of 2 from the line.