Rebels hold off stubborn Southern Utah team

Freshman Xavier Hansbro had a hot hand from the outside late, and the Rebels won their season opener in the Jim Thorpe Classic.

...ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - (Recap Courtesy of Southern Utah) Ole Miss hit four three-pointers in the final minutes of play Friday to hold off Southern Utah and ruin the Thunderbirds' season-opener in the first round of the Jim Thorpe Classic, 69-62.

SUU fell behind by as many as eight in the second half but battled back, tying it at 51-51 on a Steve Barnes 3-pointer, then going up after Barnes picked off a Bam Doyne pass and got it ahead to Justin Allen for a dunk. Trey Hampton answered with back-to-back jumpers, including a trey, however, to stake Ole Miss to a 56-53 lead with 3:26 to play.

Fernando Bonfim pulled the Thunderbirds within one with two free throws, but Xavier Hansbro, a .111 shooter from long-range in the pre-season, answered with a three from the top of the key, then after an SUU miss Londrick Nolen hit another three from the left wing to give the Rebels a 62-55 edge with 2:23 to play.

Rand Janes converted a traditional 3-point play to pull the Thunderbirds with 62-58 (2:02) but Hansbro again answered with a three. Allen scored on a drive to cut the SUU deficit to five, then Barnes hit a pair of free throws but the Thunderbirds got no closer.

Southern Utah blocked seven shots and forced 26 turnovers and had 10 steals while holding the Rebels' leading scorer in the exhibition season, Dwayne Curtis, to one point.

Allen led Southern Utah with 16 points, while Janes added 12 and eight rebounds. Lubor Olsovsky finished with nine points while the 7-foot Bonfim finished with five points and just one rebound but had three blocks and a steal.

SUU led 33-31 with 15:59 to go but the Thunderbirds scored just two points over the next seven minutes and found themselves down 43-35 before Janes hit a pair of free throws to break the drought. Ole Miss pushed the lead back to eight but Southern Utah chipped away, pulling to within 48-47 on a Janes thre with 5:56 to play, then tying it at 51-51 a minute later on a Steve Barnes three.

Both teams struggled to start the game, which was scoreless for 2:40, until Allen got a dunk on a fast break to give SUU a 2-0 advantage. Over the first eight minutes of the contest Southern Utah hit 3-of-9 shots while Ole Miss was 4-of-11 but holding a 10-6 lead. SUU warmed up, hitting three of its next five shots to tie the game at 13 before Steve Barnes gave SUU a 16-13 lead with a 3-pointer at the 6:26 mark. Southern Utah couldn't maintain the lead, however, and wound up trailing at half, 31-27.

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