Same story for Rebs versus LSU

As has been the case several times this year, Ole Miss gave themselves a chance to win an SEC game - this time against West Division leaders LSU in Oxford. But as has also been the case several times this year, they could not get it down down the stretch, falling 58-53 and dropping to 13-15 overall and 4-11 in league play.

One would think the Ole Miss Rebel basketball team would pull out a close game sooner or later, either by doing something well or the opposition blowing a game or, heck, even by luck.

But once again none of the above scenarios took place. An all-too-familiar ending took place again tonight at Tad Smith Coliseum when the Rebs lost to LSU 58-53 even though it was a one-point affair - 49-48 - with 4:27 remaining.

"I keep thinking that one of these days we are going to pull one of these close games out, but we haven't," said Reb Coach Rod Barnes. "It's been frustrating, but I still believe it's going to happen. It just didn't tonight and it hasn't all year."

Barnes attributed tonight's loss to a) not being aggressive enough offensively early on and b) hurrying things on the offensive end once the game got tight in the latter stages.

"LSU blocked a few inside shots of ours early and kind of took our aggressiveness away offensively," he said. "Then when we made a run to cut it to one point late in the game, it seemed like we were so excited that we rushed things a bit. These kids wanted to win on Senior Night so badly that they hurried when they got their opportunity to win."

LSU - who is currently one of the hottest teams in the SEC - came out strong early in the game, gaining an 18-10 lead, but the Rebs fought back to tie the score at halftime 27-27.

Senior F/C Marvin Moore, who led all Rebel scorers on the night with 15 points, came off the bench in the first half and contributed eight points while challenging the rather large LSU duo of Glen "Baby Shaq" Davis - a 6-9, 300-pound freshman - and Brandon Bass - a 6-8, 240-pound sophomore.

"Marvin provided us a spark in that first half, along with Todd Abernnethy, who also came off the bench to give us some scoring punch (also 8 points) in the first half," Barnes continued. "Marvin used his quickness to challenge their big guys."

The Rebs got off to a sluggish start in the second stanza, falling behind 34-27. Ole Miss did not score until the 15:52 mark when Moore connected on a layup. A Kendrick Fox trey cut the score to 36-34, but then LSU stretched things out again, gaining a 48-39 lead with 7:53 to go.

It looked like the curtain was going to come down on the Rebs at that point, but they rallied back to cut the deficit to 49-48 on another Fox three-pointer, an Abernethy layup, two Fox free throws and a chip shot by Tommie Eddie.

LSU, however, closed things out with a 9-4 run to end the game in the final four minutes.

"We kept our composure and hit the shots we needed to hit," said LSU Coach John Brady, whose team is now 18-8 overall and 11-4 in the SEC. "Ole Miss played tremendous defense tonight, but we were able to convert when we needed to and we made our free throws when we needed to."

Ah, the free throws. Once again, as has also been the case most of the year, the Rebs were on the short end of the stick from the charity stripe. LSU was 20-28; the Rebs 7-13, a 13-point differential in a five-point game.

"We thought there could have been a few more calls inside, but that's not what did us in," said Barnes. "As I said, the mistakes we made, the way we hurried things at the end, was where I felt we lost the game.

"I was totally pleased with the way we played defense. We held those big guys to 3 buckets on 18 shots, but offensively we lost our focus at the end."

The Rebs sagged on Davis and Bass and left some openings for quicksilver guard Darrel Mitchell, who scored a game-high 16 points, including 4-5 from the three-point arc.

"We knew we were going to have to give up something. We decided to double down on their big guys and at times we didn't rotate out quickly enough on Mitchell. He's one of the best shooters in the league and when we didn't get out there on him quickly enough, he made his shots," Rod stated.

Besides Moore's 15 points and 8 rebounds, Abernethy added 12 points and Fox had 8 in the low-scoring affair. Fox also had 7 rebounds.

The Rebels were 21-61 (34.4%) from the field and shot 53.8% from the free throw line with the aforementioned 7-13 effort.

LSU was paced by Mitchell's 16 and Bass' 13 points and 10 boards. The Tigers were 17-45 (37.8%) from the field. Ole Miss outrebounded LSU 39-38. Ole Miss also had an edge in turnovers, committing only 11 to LSU's 13.

The contest marked the last home game for seven Rebel seniors: Moore, Fox, Justin Johnson, Cavadas Nunnery, Ed Glass, Chris Rhodes and Eddie.

Ole Miss travels to South Carolina Saturday to complete their regular season before going to next week's SEC Tournament in Atlanta, GA.

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