The Tigers had won three of the last four meetings. In each of its four league losses, Auburn had led or trailed by less than five points during the second half. The Tigers ranked third in the SEC in 3-pointers per game due primarily to a guard-heavy lineup.
But as good teams do, Ole Miss wore down its opposition in a close game Thursday night. Though the Rebels trailed 41-38 at halftime, they grabbed a lead midway through the second half. From there, Ole Miss finished out its fourth conference win of the season with relative ease.
With an 84-74 final, Ole Miss (16-4, 4-2 SEC) matched its win total from a year ago and notched back-to-back conference road wins for the first time since 2001. The Rebels are 4-2 in league play for the first time in eight years.
"We could have made it easier down the stretch, but I'm really proud of our guys," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Auburn is tremendous offensively. We had to force them to miss some shots. We did a much better job in the second half."
Ole Miss was led by guards Chris Warren, Terrico White and Eniel Polynice, who combined for 53 points. Warren, his 20 points a team-high, was 7-of-12 from the field. Polynice added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. White tallied 16 of his 19 points in the second half.
"My shots weren't falling in the first half," said White, who also added seven rebounds and two assists. "I had gotten a little frustrated. But I started making my shots, and we were able to get a victory."
Auburn fell to 10-11 (1-5) on the year. The Rebels return to action Saturday, as they play host to Arkansas at 3 p.m.
"It's great to get back home," Kennedy said. "Hopefully we'll have a sellout crowd. It's a quick turnaround, but we have to protect home floor. Saturday is a huge game for us in anticipation of next week when we go back on the road."
As expected, Auburn jumped ahead early and stayed in it with 3-pointers.
The Tigers connected on four of their first five attempts from long distance, and grabbed a 17-11 advantage with 13:20 showing in the first half. However, Ole Miss quickly responded with a 13-5 run.
With 3:44 remaining in the period, the Rebels built their largest lead, 31-26, on a 2-point make by Terrance Henry. The Tigers chipped away, though, and stayed within striking distance.
Auburn regained the lead late in the first half by again catching fire from 3-point land. This time it was Frankie Sullivan who did the damage, for a two-point lead his team refused to relinquish as the horn sounded for intermission. The Tigers held a 41-38 advantage at the break.
Ole Miss trailed by as much as five in the second half, but came storming back. With his team trailing 47-44, Warren tied the score with a 3-pointer. One shot later, he nailed a jumper, and the Rebels took the lead for good at 49-47.
Auburn threatened late. The Tigers pulled within three, 68-65, with 6:24 to play. However, White and Henry hit consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 10-0 run, which put Ole Miss up 78-65.
The Rebels shot 57 percent from the floor, and were good on 7-of-17 3-point attempts. Henry had nine points and 10 rebounds in the win. Freshman Reginald Buckner had eight points and six rebounds, though he exited late in the second half with an ankle injury.
The severity of the injury has yet to be determined. Kennedy noted the freshman's swelling following the game, but was optimistic he wouldn't miss an extended length of time.
Waller led the Tigers in scoring, his 21 points a game-high. He managed only five points in the second half. DeWayne Reed had 15 points and seven assists. Lucas Hargrove added 11 points and eight rebounds.
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