Alabama beats Mississippi 76-73

Published 7:56 am Thursday, January 22, 2009

TUSCALOOSA — Senario Hillman scored Alabama’s final four points to seal a 76-73 win over Mississippi on Wednesday night.

“It was a gutsy win — a tough, hard-fought game,” said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried. “A lot of guys made some key plays at key times.”

Hillman, who finished with 12 points, hit a jumper to extend the Crimson Tide’s (12-6, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) lead to 74-71 with 1:32 remaining. After David Huertas’ layup pulled the Rebels (10-8, 1-3) back within one point 15 seconds later, both teams went scoreless for the next 1:15.

With 5 seconds remaining, Hillman grabbed a rebound off a missed shot by Ole Miss’ Murphy Holloway and hit his two free-throws to seal the Crimson Tide win.

“We had two good looks at the end,” said Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy. “Terrico (White) had a pretty good look at it, and (Murphy) had a clean look at the tip. It just didn’t make it. The effort was there, the execution just came up a little short.”

Mikhail Torrance led the Tide with 24 points, Alonzo Gee added 15 and JaMychal Green chipped in 12.

Torrance, who started in place of Ronald Steele, was also 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. The junior has scored 20 points at Mississippi State and 24 at Auburn in sharing point guard duties with Steele’s absence due to injury.

“Mikhail did a great job,” Gottfried said. “Obviously he stepped up. He did a great job defensively, too. He played terrific.”

Huertas led the Rebels with 26 points, White added 14 and Holloway scored 11.

Alabama outscored Ole Miss in the paint 36-26.

Alabama was coming off back-to-back road losses at Mississippi State and Auburn, but has won seven straight at home.

With Huertas scoring 11 of the Bulldogs’ first 14 points, Mississippi jumped out to a 14-6 advantage on a Huertas 3-pointer at the 15:54 mark of the first half. Trailing 18-10, Alabama went on an 11-3 run to tie the game, 21-21, on a free throw by Anthony Brock.

The Crimson Tide took their first lead, 26-25, on a lay-up by JaMychal Green with 7:13 left. Alabama had a 39-35 lead when Huertas — who had 20 points in the first half, including four 3s — made a 3-pointer with 7 seconds remaining to pull the Bulldogs within 39-38 at intermission.

Steele has decided to leave the team, foregoing the rest of his senior year and ending his college career due to a foot injury. He was trying to return to regular action after missing all of last season recovering from operations on both knees.

Steele, who was a two-time Alabama Mr. Basketball, recieved his degree from Alabama in Dec. 2007.