Ole Miss Wins After Finals Seconds Reviewed

ATLANTA -- If any Arkansas coach or player tuned into the end of Thursday's Southeastern Conference first round game between South Carolina and Ole Miss, it probably brought back some bad memories.

That's because the final seconds of the tight game were eerily reminiscent of the Razorbacks' 66-63 overtime loss at LSU on Jan. 19.

South Carolina guard Tre Kelley banked in what appeared to be a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in the tournament's opening game. But at the request of Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes, officials reviewed the basket and ruled that Kelley's foot was on the line, wiping the game-tying point off the scoreboard in a 53-52 loss.

"You know it's never good when the referees all of a sudden converge on that monitor if you're the one being questioned," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said.

"(Lead Official) Gerald (Boudreaux) called me over and said, 'This is a hard one. But we looked at it six times and there's no doubt in my mind that his foot was on the line.' He said, 'When you see it, you'll know we're right.' I said, 'Gerald I believe you' and that was the end of it. If he's that sure, then I'm sure that he's right."

Barnes, who figured the game was tied after the officials initially signaled the 3-pointer, requested the review after Ole Miss senior Cavadas Nunnery insisted Kelley's foot was on the line. But Barnes, along with Boudreaux, said the shot likely would've been reviewed anyway because it was a close play late in the game.

"We have lost so many close games, so I was happy we could get the win," Barnes said. "As we walked off the floor, I really felt for coach Odom because we're so close.

"But I've walked off the floor a few times myself after losing a close game and it feels good to come out on top."

Arkansas missed a chance to beat LSU when Michael Jones' last-second jumper was ruled a two-point shot. The Hogs eventually lost in overtime.

One and Done
Georgia became the first SEC team to watch its season mercifully come to an end after its 76-65 first-round loss to Mississippi State on Thursday. The young and undermanned Bulldogs finished 8-20, which was the fewest wins for a Georgia team since the 1974-75 bunch finished 8-17.

But center Dave Bliss, guard Sundiata Gaines and coach Dennis Felton said Georgia isn't happy to see the season end. In fact, Felton said the Bulldogs will return to work in preparation for the 2005-06 after taking a week off for spring break.

"I think we learned a lot through the season and going through certain experiences," said Bliss, who scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds Thursday. "We'll definitely take something from that and it'll carry over into the future. But I wouldn't look at it as happy to be done at all. More, happy to get started, I guess."

New Start
Barnes described his four-year contract extension, which he agreed to Wednesday, as a new beginning for the program that struggled throughout his seventh season. If that's the case, the Rebels got off to a great start against the Gamecocks.

Ole Miss avenged Sunday's 76-70 overtime loss at South Carolina, sending the Gamecocks home early. The Rebels, who built a 49-41 lead with 5 minutes left and held on for the win, meet Alabama today at noon.

"It's a new beginning for us," Barnes said. "It's a new beginning as far as the contract. It's a new beginning for this particular team. They put a lot of effort into this season. So, basically, we come in and say, 'Let's start off new.'"

Fast Break
Ole Miss and South Carolina combined for the lowest point total (105) in an SEC Tournament game since Alabama (55) and Tennessee (43) scored 98 in the first round in 1995. ... It also was the first time a tournament game has been decided by one point since LSU's 63-62 win against Georgia in 2001. ... Mississippi State improved to 2-7 against Georgia in the SEC Tournament. Its only other victory came in 1996, when Mississippi State went on to win the tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament's Final Four.

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