For the second game in a row, Ole Miss had its chances but couldn't get it done.
In this afternoon's SEC-ACC battle between Ole Miss and Florida State, the Rebels spotted the Seminoles a huge lead and still almost won. But the visitors left Oxford with a 69-64 victory.
Last Wednesday night at Jonesboro, Ark., Ole Miss had a shot at the end to win as well but lost 70-68.
That the Rebels are losing isn't pleasing to any concerned. But the fact that they've had their chances against quality opponents, one on the road and an ACC foe at home, leaves the 2-4 Rebs feeling like they're close.
"I thought our kids hung in there again," UM Coach Rod Barnes said. "We had our opportunities to fold the tent but we didn't. We got down but I expected our guys to come back and they did. Florida State has a good basketball team. Both teams are really working to try to get better right now. Today, just like at Arkansas State, we had our chances to win the game. Our kids took some good shots. We had some great looks. Once again we just couldn't get the ball to go down. We'll keep working. Obviously both defensively and offensively we've got to get better."
Ole Miss got down early as the Seminoles were on fire. In the game's first six minutes, the FSU lead was already double digits when Todd Galloway nailed a 3-pointer to put his team up 15-4. The visitors from Tallahassee maintained a substantial lead until Ole Miss made a run at them.
A 3-point basket with 5:22 to go before halftime brought the Rebels back to within three points at 29-26. But the 'Noles pushed the lead back out and held their largest advantage at intermission at 44-28, outscoring Ole Miss 15-2 to end the first half.
FSU shot a blazing 67 percent (6-9) from 3-point range in the opening half and was 17-29 from the field for 59 percent overall
The Rebels struggled to get their shots to fall and were 10-29 from the floor in the first half for 35 percent as well as 4-17 from 3-point range for 24 percent.
That was markedly different from the Rebels last two outings against Arkansas State and TennesseeTech when they were much more accurate shooting the basketball, especially early in those contests.
But in the second half, the FSU lead came trickling down. When Todd Abernethy made a layup, the Rebs trailed only 58-52 with 9:18 to go. An Abernethy trey later ended a 10-0 run for Ole Miss and pulled the Rebs to within one point at 58-57 with 7:55 left.
The Seminoles maintained the lead the rest of the way, however, as the Rebels could never get over the hump. Actually Ole Miss did not lead the entire contest.
Londrick Nolen scored on a fastbreak layup with a spin move inside the lane to pull Ole Miss to within two points at 66-64 with 2:09 to go. That would be the last points the Rebs would put up.
After FSU turrned the ball over, the Rebels returned the favor with 1:40 left. The Seminoles again turned the basketball over, and the Rebs had another shot with just over a minute to go and still trailing 66-64.
After working the ball around for a good shot, Abernethy missed a baseline jumper with 34 seconds left. FSU's Johnson Alexander was fouled with 29 seconds to go and made one of two free throws for a 67-64 advantage. The Rebels brought it down with a chance to tie it with a trey but turned it over to FSU. Jason Rich stole the basketball and drove it down for a layup and the final score.
Rod said his team needs to keep improving and playing hard, and the shots will start going down at the end.
"We had our opportunities but we didn't pull it off," he said. "It's my job as coach to keep these guys fighting and keep them in that position. Then we'll jump up and make a couple of shots and win a game. After we do that we'll continue to get better."
Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton said his team continues to improve and was glad to get out of Oxford with a victory.
"The first half was probably the best half we've played this year," said the former head coach at Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma State as well as an assistant at Kentucky. "We kinda changed our defense coming in here to offset the type of job that Ole Miss does executing its half-court offense. I thought in the second half they adjusted and executed much better on offense. And as they always do, they played tremendous defense. This is one of the more difficult places to win. We're glad to get out of here with a victory."
Ole Miss had four players in double figures with Nolen (who fouled out with 1:40 left) and Justin Johnson leading the way with 14 points each. Tommie Eddie, who fouled out with 3:57 left, had 13 points. Kendrick Fox had 10.
Florida State, which was coming off a 70-69 win at Minnesota in the ACC-Big 10 challenge Tuesday night, improved to 4-3 on the season and was led by Johnson and Rich with 12 apiece.
The Rebels ended the game shooting 39 percent (24-62) for the game including 9-31 (29 percent) from 3-point range. FSU shot 57 percent (26-46) from the floor and was 7-13 (54 percent) from 3-point land.
Both teams had 33 rebounds - FSU led on the defensive boards 25-18 while Ole Miss led 15-8 on the offensive boards.
Ole Miss plays at Memphis Saturday at noon at the new FedEx Forum.
Rebs fight but fall to Noles 69-64
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