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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Alabama kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive by delivering its biggest come-from-behind victory of the season.

John Petty stuffed in a putback with a minute left to put Alabama ahead for good as the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide rallied from a 16-point, second-half deficit to beat No. 7 seed Mississippi 62-57 in the SEC Tournament on Thursday.

"It's huge for our confidence going forward the rest of this postseason to be able to go out there and get that win as a team tonight," said Alabama's Tevin Mack, who scored 21 points. "We've got to keep that same energy [Friday] and going forward, whatever it is going forward, and just stay together and be the aggressors every time on the court."

The Tide (18-14) advanced to an SEC quarterfinal today against No. 4 Kentucky, the No. 2 seed in this tournament. 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. Alabama had lost its last three regular-season games before rallying to beat Ole Miss.

"I don't feel like we've secured it yet," Petty said. "I feel like we've got to keep winning. Even if we did, I wouldn't say that we can just relax. I want to keep winning anyways."

Ole Miss (20-12) likely will earn an NCAA bid 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 criterion in the NCAA Tournament selection process.

While Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis said afterward the Rebels should have no reason to worry, his players aren't taking anything for granted.

"I'm definitely going to be nervous," Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree said. "Hopefully we make it."

Kira Lewis Jr. scored 13 points and Galin Smith had 11 to spark Alabama's comeback, while Donta Hall had 7 points and 15 rebounds. Devonate Shuler had 14 points and Bruce Stevens added 12 for Ole Miss.

Alabama hadn't trailed by more than 14 points in any of its regular-season victories this year. Ole Miss led the Tide 40-24 in the opening minute of the second half.

"I think we came out of the game kind of passive a little bit, like tiptoeing on our toes," Mack said. "We weren't really ourselves in the first half. So we came out in the second half and just tried to be aggressive, lay everything on the line and just play our game."

Alabama rallied and took a 44-43 lead when a Lewis 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 57-57 on a driving layup with 1:34 remaining. Lewis then got a steal and missed a layup attempt, but Petty dunked in the rebound to put Alabama ahead for good.

Stevens and KJ Buffen both missed on Ole Miss' next possession, and Smith made a free throw to extend Alabama's lead to 60-57 with 41 seconds left.

After Shuler missed a potential tying three-point attempt, Alabama's Dazon Ingram sank two free throws to cap the scoring with 20 seconds remaining.

NO. 22 AUBURN 81, MISSOURI 71

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bryce Brown scored all 17 of his points in the second half, and No. 22 Auburn beat Missouri in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

Auburn (23-9) won its fifth consecutive to advance to the quarterfinals today against fourth-seeded South Carolina, and the Tigers also snapped a three-game skid at the SEC tournament dating back to 2015 when they reached the semifinals.

No. 12 seed Missouri (15-17) at least kept this game closer than the last game between these teams, a 34-point loss in Auburn on Jan. 30, and they even led by as much as four in the first half.

Chuma Okeke added 12 points for Auburn. Horace Spencer and Malik Dunbar had 11 each.

Jordan Geist had a game-high 25 points for Missouri, and Torrence Watson matched his career high with 20.

MISSISSIPPI STATE 80, TEXAS A&M 54

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lamar Peters scored 15 points, and Mississippi State routed Texas A&M.

Peters opened the game with a three for Mississippi State (23-9), and Quinndary Weatherspoon added a three as the Bulldogs built a double-digit lead within the first six minutes at 15-4 on a three-point play by Abdul Ado. From there, the Bulldogs just kept padding the lead to 7 late before Savion Flagg scored on a fast-break layup for A&M to trim the halftime margin to 38-23.

Tyson Carter scored 14 points for Mississippi State, and Weatherspoon added 12.

Sports on 03/15/2019

Print Headline: Bama keeps hope alive with victory

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