No. 14 Alabama retains a share of 1st place in the SEC with a 103-88 win over Mississippi

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OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mark Sears scored 26 points and No. 14 Alabama held on to its share of first place in the Southeastern Conference with a 103-88 win over Mississippi on Wednesday night.

Sears, a 6-foot-1 guard and the SEC’s leading scorer at 20.4 points a game, was 8 for 14 from the floor and 3 for 8 from 3-point range as Crimson Tide (20-8) kept pace with conference co-leader No. 4 Tennessee, which beat No. 11 Auburn 92-84 earlier Wednesday.

Tennessee and Alabama are 12-3 in conference play.

Aaron Estrada had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, Davin Cosby Jr. added 15 points, Rylan Griffen had 14 and Nick Pringle and Grant Nelson each had 10 for The Crimson Tide.

“He’s getting comfortable in the offense, figuring out where to get his shots, when he can attack," Alabama coach Nate Oats said of Estrada. “I keep telling him he needs to stop passing up open 3s. He deserves to have a good game because he’s been playing so hard. It’s awesome when you think of all the pros we’ve had come through here.”

Allen Flanigan led Ole Miss with 28 points, an SEC season-high for the Auburn transfer.

Flanigan was ejected from Saturday’s 72-59 loss to No. 18 South Carolina after a flagrant foul. He did not start Wednesday, but was in the game within the first three minutes.

“The first half was one of our better halves all season, one of our better 20-minute segments. I thought we needed to score 90 points and make nine or 10 3s to win this game,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said.

Ole Miss (19-9, 6-9 SEC) slowed the Crimson Tide’s conference-leading offense (91.1 points per game) in the first half, but eventually Alabama pulled away.

The Crimson Tide, who have scored at least 80 points in nine straight games, were on a 60-point pace before a couple of 3-pointers fueled a 16-5 run to close the first half. Sears had eight points in the run.

Ole Miss led 42-39 at the break.

Two free throws by Jarin Stevenson at the 18:58 mark of the second half gave Alabama its first lead of the game. The Crimson Tide stretched their lead to nine points on a 3-pointer by Estrada with 14:19 left.

The Rebels tied the game at 65 with 9:39 left when Jaylen Murray capped an 8-0 run with two free throws, but Alabama surged ahead.

BIG PICTURE

Ole Miss has lost six of its last seven. The Rebels had a chance to boost their NCAA Tournament resume, but fell Wednesday and lost to No. 18 South Carolina last Saturday, dropping two home games.

Alabama could help its NCAA Tournament seeding with an SEC regular-season championship.

UP NEXT

Alabama: Host No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday.

Mississippi: At Missouri on Saturday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball