A nightmare played out at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday afternoon and it's best dubbed The Grinch Who Stole Senior Day.
This Grinch wore blue, is 5-foot-10 and weighs 165 pounds.
Chris Warren tossed in a game-high 31 points and Ole Miss erased a late 11-point deficit in the final five minutes to down the University of Arkansas 68-66 and hand the Razorbacks their fifth straight loss before 13,927 fans.
"It didn't end the way we wanted it to – that goes without saying," UA head coach John Pelphrey said. "Tough day. Obviously Mississippi kept playing and made some shots and had a tremendous effort from Chris Warren. I felt like we just had a lot of things that went against us in the last three minutes – loose balls, offensive rebounds, opportunities to score."
Coupled with Tennessee's win 75-59 win at Mississippi State, it not only gave the Rebels (21-9, 9-7) the second seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Nashville but a share of the SEC West crown.
"I just told them to keep fighting, to keep hanging – there is an eternity left," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. "With that shot clock, you can't keep it between the tackles and run the clock out. You have got to keep playing. Obviously we did so."
Arkansas (14-17, 7-9) led 65-54 with 4:51 left in the game when Marshawn Powell hit a free throw.
But the Razorbacks would score just a single point down the stretch and Ole Miss nailed a trio of 3-pointers to rally for the win.
The big shot of the game was Warren's bomb at the 53 second mark after Terrence Henry grabbed a rebound off teammate Murphy Holloway's missed free throw.
Holloway is a 45 percent free throw shooter this season.
"To his credit, Murphy misses so bad that everybody has a hard time playing the carom except his teammates," Kennedy said. "That's because we see him do it every day. He missed so bad that his teammate and roommate got a hand on the ball and it is very difficult…to match up with shooters then and Chris got a rhythm three."
Ole Miss then survived missed shots by Julysess Nobles and senior Michael Washington near the buzzer.
It gave the Rebels a bye in next week's SEC Tournament in Nashville and extended their winning streak to 4.
Arkansas, which had a one-game lead in the SEC West at 7-4, continued its end-of-the season slide.
"It is very difficult," said Pelphrey, whose team led by as many as 14 in the first half.
Rotnei Clarke had 13 points, Marcus Britt 12 and Julysess Nobles 11 off the bench for Arkansas, who shot 50 percent in the first half, but just 31 percent after intermission.
Powell added 9 points and 6 rebounds and Michael Washington – one of the Razorbacks three seniors – had 8 points and 9 rebounds.
Courtney Fortson had 8 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds, but also 6 of his team's 19 turnovers before fouling out with 56.6 left in the game.
Washington was 3-of-11 from the field, Powell 3-of-12 and Fortson 2-of-9 during the game.
That trio had powered Arkansas to an 80-73 win at Ole Miss earlier this season.
"I thought today that Mississippi did a good job with Mike and Marshawn and Courtney to be honest with you," Pelphrey said. "They did a good job defending those guys. Low shooting percentages out of all of them. But I thought Marcus and Julysess came off the bench and played very well."
UA senior Stefan Welsh had 5 points and 2 assists in 15 minutes and senior Stephen Cox got in the game late.
The Rebels won despite playing without junior guard Eniel Polynice, who was suspended indefinitely prior to the game for conduct detrimental to the team.
While Warren was 11-of-17 from the field, the rest of his teammates were 14-of-41.
"We were there, but you have got to make him drive the ball," Pelphrey said. "We know that. If you let him get them off on a certain night, he can make five. He does it all the time. He is the leading 3-point shot maker in the league."
Four of those 14 were after a quartet of turnovers in a row with Fortson out of the game with foul trouble.
"I thought defensively we were really pretty good all day long," Pelphrey said. "In the first half, if it wasn't for four turnovers against the press or whatever. I think they had 17 turnovers against the press and they had 15 of those at halftime."
There were several key shots late that Arkansa came up empty on.
Washington missed a shot with his team ahead 65-63 and a timeout just having been taken at the 1:06 mark.
"No, I wanted to take the clock down to be honest with you," Pelphrey said. "We were all pretty surprised at how open he was. He is more than capable of making that. We would have all been very happy if it had gone in. There is a fine line between holding the ball instead of trying to play to win. The way it worked out – wide open and 14 or 15 feet – arguably our best player. We are going to live with that."
Nobles then had a shot roll off the rim when he was fouled with 20 seconds left that would have tied it – and an ensuing free throw give his team a lead.
After Warren split a pair of free throws, Nobles' drive that could have tied it that was swatted by Holloway and then Washington's heave at the buzzer was off.
"We wanted to see if we could get Rotnei coming free off a double screen and we didn't get to it," Pelphrey said. "Julysess felt like he had a driving lane and two-point game, you don't necessarily need a three. It didn't work out for us. We didn't get either one."
Arkansas will now play SEC East sixth-seed Georgia Thursday night at 8:45 in the SEC Tournament.
LSU beat Georgia 50-48 on Saturday meaning the Tigers only two league wins this season were against the Razorbacks and Bulldogs.
Marshawn Powell and Murphy Holloway battle at the rim on Saturday.
Chris Warren takes a shot over Delvon Johnson.
Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey gets after his team.
Arkansas freshman guard Julysess Nobles, who had 11 points on Saturday, tries to get away from Ole Miss pressure.
Retiring Arkansas play-by-play voice Mike Nail was honored at halftime of his last regular season game.
Ricardo Ratliffe (6-9, 240), the nation's top junior college basketball player, is on an official visit to Arkansas this weekend.
The Razorback student section shows it love for Ratliffe.
An Arkansas fan reacts in the closing second of the Razorbacks' loss on Saturday.
Ole Miss 68, Arkansas 66
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