Off the Mat

Andy Kennedy needed someone, anyone, to step up Saturday night against Auburn. Murphy Holloway answered the call.

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With his team trailing, 39-28, with less than 16 minutes left to play, Holloway went on a 12-0 run by himself for a 40-39 Ole Miss lead.

He was the spark Ole Miss desperately needed in a crucial game it couldn't lose, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the year.

"We were challenging guys. Somebody had to step up," Kennedy said. "That's the best Murphy has played in a while. He's been unlike himself in the last couple of games as far as production. He made some huge plays."

Ole Miss improved to 15-9 on the year and 5-5 in Southeastern Conference games. Auburn fell to 13-12 (3-8 SEC). The Rebels need five wins to reach 20 for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

"(Kennedy) just told me, they follow you. Just lead by example," Holloway said. "Everybody was sitting back, waiting on somebody. I just took the ownership and tried to lead the team."

"I knew that was in him," freshman point guard Jarvis Summers said. "He's just a soldier. I knew he had it up in him."

Reginald Buckner
Bruce Newman

Ole Miss outscored Auburn, 10-3, in the final two minutes of the game, including a breakaway layup from Nick Williams with 35 seconds left. A Reginald Buckner block of Frankie Sullivan, his fourth of the game, led to the transition score which all but ended the game.

"That's what he does," Kennedy said of Buckner, who now has 215 career blocks, a school record. Buckner is ranked 19th in SEC history. "That's the reason he's in the game. He has a lot of value to this team defensively. We were just trying to funnel them into Reg and let him do him."

Ole Miss was 22 of 49 from the floor for the game, good for 44.9 percent. Auburn made 40 percent of its shots (21 of 52), but was held to 38 percent shooting in the second half. The teams tied, 33-33, in rebounding.

Holloway led three Rebels in double figures. Williams was second on the team with 13 points, including 3 of 6 shooting from 3. Summers had 11 points. He was 4 of 4 from the free throw line, with two of those makes coming with under a minute to play and his team clinging to a one-point lead.

Kenny Gabriel had 15 points to pace Auburn, followed by Sullivan, who had 10. Sullivan opened the game with eight-straight points but was relatively quiet the rest of the way.

Ole Miss returns to action Thursday against Vanderbilt.

"We are what we are. We've got to battle," Kennedy said. "I never thought an Andy Kennedy coached team would be sweating out getting to 60 (points) but that's what this team is. We've got to accept it and try to be good in the areas we've proven to be productive."

Summers comes up big:

The game was tied, 51-51, and Auburn had possession. Then Summers made a play.

Summers recognized the set Auburn was in, and jumped a pass attempt to Varez Wade. Summers raced for the loose ball, gathered himself and made a difficult layup to push Ole Miss ahead by two.

Ole Miss never trailed again.

"I knew they would run that play," Summers said. "I overplayed it and took a chance on a steal. He passed the ball and I made a play. I timed it real good. I just made the play."

Summers said Thursday's game against Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. is the biggest game of the season thus far. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

"Most important game of the year," Summers said. "If we win that, then we'll be alive. Just got to stay focused, practice hard this week and just get ready for them."

Jarvis Summers
Bruce Newman

Lethargic start almost dooms Rebs:

Ole Miss couldn't have played a worse first half Saturday night. The Rebels, fresh off back-to-back losses to Alabama and Mississippi State, struggled to find any rhythm on either end of the floor while Auburn built a 31-24 halftime lead.

"That's just us," Kennedy said, then looking with a smile and joking with a local reporter in the room as laughter broke out.

"We're always lethargic, don't you think? We have trouble dribbling, passing it and shooting it. Other than that, great group of guys."

The Rebels made but eight of their 23 shots in the first half. They were 3 of 8 from 3-point range and 5 of 12 from the free throw line.

Holloway said the halftime speech from Kennedy wasn't overly emotional. No, Kennedy simply called for the players to take ownership for their play. Ole Miss was 0 for 6 to start the second half and trailed by 11.

However, the Rebels outscored Auburn, 33-15, the rest of the way.

"He just told us, y'all are a team. Take ownership," Holloway said.

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