Rebs win West with victory against Auburn

Don't give up on this Ole Miss team, at least at home and when there's any amount of time left on the clock.

Auburn was playing some of its best basketball of the season. The Tigers had won three straight games.

Ole Miss had lost two straight games, both on the road. Their confidence was shaky and perhaps even playing at home might not be enough to pull the Rebels out of a season-ending tailspin.

The Rebels, who ultimately won the game 83-79, led 45-41 at halftime. But Auburn kept scoring, especially from 3-point land. Quan Prowell, with 26 points on the day, was 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the contest.

As the game moved toward its conclusion, the Rebels were having some shots go down and come back up, rim out and not go in. The Tigers seemed to have the game in hand with a 77-74 lead and less than a minute left.

But two straight Tiger turnovers set up a three-point shot by Sanders to tie it with 39 seconds to go and a layup by Jermey Parnell that gave Ole Miss a 79-77 lead with 33 seconds to go.

Prior to Parnell's layup, Jermey himself had tipped an Auburn throwin play, and the ball went right to Abernethy at midcourt. Todd threw the ball underneath to Parnell who laid it in.

Josh Dollard's layup then pulled Auburn into a 79-79 tie with 25 seconds left. With Ole Miss in possession, Bam Doyne was fouled with 3.8 seconds remaining. Doyne, who had missed four of eight free throws in the game to that point, connected on both to give the Rebels an 81-79 lead.

Ole Miss had only five fouls in the second half at that point, and Sanders fouled DeWayne Reed just before he launched a 3-pointer. After the referees huddled, it was ruled there was .7 seconds to go and Auburn had the ball on the side to throw it in. After the throwin hit the backboard and bounced to Todd Abernethy, the officials huddled again and gave Ole Miss the basketball with .4 seconds left. They ruled the clock had started too fast but that Ole Miss should have the basketball.

Doyne was fouled by Frank Tolbert before the throwin, and that's when Doyne sank two more free throws for the four-point margin and the victory.

The Rebels were only 13-of-23 from the free throw line before Doyne closed it out with four straight.

"It was a really good basketball game," Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said. "It was two teams that overachieved this year that played with a lot of heart, soul, and guts."

The Tigers outrebounded Ole Miss 42-33 and shot 28-of-62 (45 percent) from the field. Auburn had 21 turnovers to the Rebels' 10. The Rebs shot 29-of-62 (47 percent) from the field.

"Today was so much fun," said Abernethy, who was honored along with seniors Doyne and Sanders in pregame ceremonies. "Things could have gone the other way, but we kept fighting and fighting and didn't give up. We've had so many close games and close wins at home, it's only right that this one went down to the last second."

"How do you explain some of the things that have happened in this building?" Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "These guys never gave up. It certainly was not our best game. We willed ourselves to victory again. That's the only thing I can come up with. And that's a tribute to our players."

Ole Miss now heads to the SEC tournament in Atlanta with a first-round bye. If Mississippi State beats Alabama in Starkville Sunday, the Rebels are the No. 2 seed. If Alabama beats MSU, the Rebels are the No. 1 seed.

Auburn finished the regular season 17-14 and 7-9.

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