Ole Miss Escapes With Two-Point Win

The Ole Miss basketball team remained unbeaten in SEC play on Saturday night, but just barely.

Auburn, Ala.--Ole Miss stayed unbeaten in the SEC basketball race, but just narrowly on Saturday night, as Marshall Henderson hit a pair of free throws with 6.4 seconds left and Frankie Sullivan missed a trey to beat the buzzer as the Rebels got out of Auburn Arena with a 63-61 win.

Prior to that Henderson, the SEC's leading scorer, had his struggles shooting and his team had made just two of its 15 free throws. Henderson finished with 15 points, but made just four of 15 field goals and was 1-2 at the free throw line prior to hitting a pair at the end.

Chris Denson, who guarded Henderson part of the game when the Tigers were in man to man defense, led all scorers with 18 points as the junior guard hit 6-9 field goals.

Ole Miss improved its record to 6-0 in the league and 17-2 overall.

Auburn, which has lost four in a row, slipped to 8-11 overall and 2-4 in the league despite an into-the-game near sellout crowd urging them on.

"We had open looks all night long and we shot 36 percent," said Auburn coach Tony Barbee when asked what he thought was the difference in the game.

Auburn hit 20-55 field goals and Ole Miss made 24-55 field goals. The Rebels nailed 11-24 threes to make up for a horrible night at the foul line.

The Tigers were 6-24 on threes and 15-19 at the foul line.

Auburn was out-rebounded 37-36 and the Tigers took care of the basketball, turning it over just six times. However, Ole Miss only had just eight turnovers so the Tigers didn't gain much of an advantage from their good ball-handling.

"I am disappointed in the loss, but proud of the way the guys the fought in this game," Barbee said.

"They were fighting their tails off to win," he said. "When we don't care who gets the glory, and we are doing this together and doing it for each other, we are a pretty good team."

Auburn's biggest lead of the game was 10 points with 3:16 left in the half, but the Rebels cut the margin to 33-31 at the break.

The largest lead for the Rebels was five points with 13:51 to play and the visitors were on top much of the second half. However, after steal by Denson the junior guard hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 61-61 with one minute left.

After a missed shot by Ole Miss, the Tigers got the ball back, but Denson's shot was blocked by Murphy Holloway. Reginald Buckner got the ball on a fastbreak for the Rebels, but his layup was blocked by Auburn freshman Shaquille Johnson. However, on the in-bounds play Johnson was called for a foul, sending Henderson to the line.

"After the Vanderbilt game I wasn't too happy with my performance, but I came back and rehabbed and rehabbed," Denson said about why he had his best performance since coming back from an injury.

Frankie Sullivan launches a shot vs. Ole Miss.

Sullivan, who scored 12 points for the Tigers, continued to struggle with his shooting. He was 4-4 at the foul line, but just 3-11 from the field and 2-9 on threes. "Seven of my nine threes were wide open," the senior said. "I am definitely going to get back in the gym. I will probably be back here tonight."

Starting Lineup: The Tigers started Allen Payne, Rob Chubb, Shaquille Johnson, Josh Wallace and Frankie Sullivan.

At the half the Tigers shot 13-30 (43.3 percent) from the field with 3-10 on threes and 4-6 at the foul line. Ole Miss hit 12-31 shots for 38.7 percent in the first half. The Rebels hit 7-16 threes and were 0-4 on free throws.

The Tigers led in rebounds 19-18 and had four turnovers, two fewer than the Rebels.

Denson led the Tigers in scoring at the break with eight points while Marshall Henderson led Ole Miss with nine points.

Visiting Coach:

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said defense kept the Rebels unbeaten, noting that his team's two defensive stops in the final minute were big. "We held them to 28 percent shooting in the second half," he added.

Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn was "All N" on Saturday night as he participated as the celebrity guest in the spell out Auburn cheer.

Post Scoring Drought: Starter Rob Chubb finished the night with just one point and took just three field goals for the Tigers. He did lead the Tigers in rebounds with 10 and kept Ole Miss standout Holloway in check. Holloway, who was averaging 15.4 points per game, was 2-4 from the field and finished with five points. Asauhn Dixon-Tatum was 0-2 shooting for the Tigers and did not have a rebound in eight minutes off the bench. another Ole Miss big man, Buckner, was 1-3 shooting and scored just two points after coming into the game averaging 10.3 points per game.

Barbee Sees Progress: Auburn's coach said the Tigers played better because of better team chemistry. "It was that we got out of our own way," he said. "We stopped worrying about petty stuff that ever team goes through at some point in the middle of the year." Sullivan said the coach was talking about a team meeting in which the players and coaches discussed the importance of everybody carrying their share of the load in a team concept, both offensively and defensively.

Coaches Vs. Cancer: The Auburn and Ole Miss coaching staffs wore basketball shoes for the game as part of an awareness campaign for the Coaches Vs. Cancer project they are supporting.

Up Next: The Tigers travel to Ole Miss for a 6 p.m. CST game on Wednesday.

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