Missed Opportunity

Ole Miss played an inspired first half against No. 14 Florida Thursday night. The second half, however, was a different story.

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In front of some 8,000 fans packed inside Tad Smith Coliseum, Ole Miss opened up a 10-point halftime lead. But Florida won the second half on both ends.

The Rebels had a last-second possession down three, but a turnover by Maurice Aniefiok ended the game with Florida on top, 64-60.

Ole Miss fell to 13-7 overall on the year and 3-3 in Southeastern Conference games. Florida improved to 16-4 (4-1 SEC).

"I thought the effort was there. The execution failed us a bit," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "They did a great job with their ball movement in the second half, and then when they had to have guys step up when it was time to make a shot, they made a shot."

Florida outscored Ole Miss, 36-22, in the second half. The Gators were 6 of 16 from 3-point range, including three consecutive 3-pointers after Ole Miss had taken a 52-50 lead with 6:25 to go in the game for a five-point lead Florida would never relinquish.

"It's tough, man. We expected to win this game tonight," Nick Williams, who had 14 points and five rebounds, said. "When you don't win, you've got to look at yourself; see what you did wrong. We'll get back at it tomorrow and try to get a win Saturday."

Terrance Henry led the team in scoring with a game-high 21 points on 9 of 16 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds. Henry and Williams were the only Rebels in double-digit scoring. Ole Miss shot 42.3 percent from the floor for the game, but only 27.6 percent in the second half.

"It's real tough, losing a home game to nationally-ranked Florida," Henry said. "But we're going to have to move on. We've got a lot of basketball left to play. We wanted to come out and prove ourselves, and we did that in the first half. We didn't finish it off. I'm taking it hard. We've just got to move on."

Nick Williams
Bruce Newman

Three players scored in double digits for Florida. Patric Young had 15, while Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker had 12 points and 10 points, respectively. Ole Miss won the rebounding battle, 41-23. Florida shot 47.1 percent from the floor for the game. The Gators were good on 52 percent of their shots in the second half.

"You've got to give Mississippi a lot of credit," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "They had an unbelievable first half offensively. We talked a lot about staying the course. I don't think we really got rattled or overwhelmed."

Ole Miss charged out of the gates, jumping ahead 20-4 through hot shooting from the perimeter. In the first six minutes, Ole Miss made three 3s, including two from Henry, who had 12 points in the first half.

After a timeout, Florida mounted its comeback, pulling to within six, 29-23, with a 19-9 run. However, another 3 by Williams, his fourth of the first half and last of the game, pushed Ole Miss back ahead by double digits. Jarvis Summers hit a jumper seconds before the horn sounded for intermission, and Ole Miss led at the half, 38-28. Williams had 12 points in the first half, all from 3.

"I thought we finally made a breakthrough," Williams said of the first half. "We just came out in the second half and didn't make shots. We turned the ball over. They're a great shooting team, a great passing team. They did what they do."

Ole Miss returns to action Saturday against South Carolina. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on FSN.

"It's disappointing," Kennedy said. "Hey, it is what it is. We can't get this back. We're forced to turn the page. Tomorrow, there will be no more talk about Florida. This is going to hurt and it should hurt. I want it to hurt. Tomorrow, let's come back and get our focus on our next opportunity."

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