NASHVILLE — Ole Miss’ star dazzled the Bridgestone Arena crowd while Alabama’s go-to player disappeared in the first half of Thursday night’s SEC Tournament game.
Frustrated by his team’s failure to stop Rebels sharpshooter Stefan Moody and perturbed by Crimson Tide guard Retin Obasohan’s goose egg at halftime, Alabama coach Avery Johnson decided to give the latter player a lecture.
“Retin and I go to church together,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t church language. We had to go back to the streets.”
Whatever was said, worked.
Obasohan exploded for 17 second-half points while adding three rebounds, two assists and a steal in the Crimson Tide’s 81-73 win.
Thursday was the senior’s second slow start in a row, but the Tide proved they could hang in without him by building a four-point halftime lead.
“We’ve been just consistently talking about, ‘What type of team are we going to be when Retin is not in the game?'” Johnson said. “And believe it or not, it was kind of a blessing in disguise when he got into foul trouble … And we were able to be in the lead with him on the bench.”
Alabama got a balanced effort from its starting lineup, with four players — Obasohan, Arthur Edwards, Justin Coleman and Riley Norris — racking up 15 or more points.
That helped combat Ole Miss’ Moody, who tied the single-game tournament record with eight 3-pointers and finished with 39 points.
“He’s such a gifted offensive player,” Obasohan said. “The best thing you can do is try to contain him.”
That attempt failed, but the Rebels also failed to contain Obasohan in the second half, and now the Crimson Tide are moving on to face No. 2 seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, SEC Network).