Still Alive

Ole Miss may not have sent lone senior DeAundre Cranston out with a bang in his home finale, but a 72-59 win over rival LSU will work just the same.

The Rebels slowly wore down a vastly undermanned LSU squad in front of an announced crowd of 6,430 inside Tad Smith Coliseum Thursday.

With the win, Ole Miss moves to 20-9 overall, the 10th 20-win season in school history, and 8-7 in Southeastern Conference play.

"As long as there's games, there's hope," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "As games start dwindling down, you have less opportunity."

It was the third straight win for the Rebels, who are vying to stay relevant in the NCAA Tournament conversation and the first league contest this year decided by 10 points on either side. Thursday marked the first sweep of LSU since 1999.

Ole Miss is now in sole possession of second place in the SEC West and with a win at Arkansas Saturday, would own the No. 2 seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

"We understand completely what's on the line," said Kennedy. "We understand that Saturday's a big game. We realize opportunities are becoming more and more scare. We have to win when we get the opportunity."

Junior guard Chris Warren led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. He was 5-of-7 in 3-point attempts, and also added five assists. Zach Graham and Terrico White followed with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

"He's been tremendous," Kennedy said of Warren. "In the last two games he's had 12 assists and no turnovers. He's shooting it at a high percentage. He's been, by far, our team MVP from day one. He's the only player whose numbers have gone up in league play. We have to get some other people going, but he's been the one constant."

Ole Miss caught fire to open the first half. Warren connected on a 3-pointer, one of his five in the period, and the Rebels held an 11-4 lead with 15:06 remaining until intermission. LSU battled back, though, and was within one at 22-21 following a Dennis Harris dunk.

After not scoring for over a two-minute stretch, Ole Miss finally found the basket at the 5:08 mark. Murphy Holloway was good on a jumper, which sparked a 7-0 run and pushed his team out in front 29-21. The Rebels led 33-29 at the half.

"I betcha in 85 percent of our possessions, they were in zone," said Kennedy. "That's kind of what they've done. From a personnel standpoint, it keeps them in games. It slows it down. We're a team that shoots the ball 64 or 65 times a game. We only got it up 51 simply because of the pace of the game."

With the game tied at 36 early in the second half, Ole Miss used an 11-2 run for a comfortable lead at 47-38. However, LSU quickly responded with an 8-0 spurt of its own. Consecutive 3-pointers from Bo Spencer cut the deficit to one with 11:22 to go.

The Rebels appeared to put the game away with 7:55 showing in the second half. Ole Miss held a 58-50 margin, but again allowed LSU to chip away due to five-straight points. But the Tigers scored only four more points the rest of the way compared to Ole Miss' 14 for the 72-59 final.

"We've been able to get close to a lot of people," LSU head coach Trent Johnson said. "What's not enabling us to get over the hump is called being a good player, having good guards and being able to make plays. No secret to it. Our record is what it is. All you have to do is refer to the stat sheet from start to finish and there's a reason we're last in a little bit of everything."

Ole Miss shot 51 percent for the game (26-of-51) and won the rebounding battle, 40-33. The Rebels were successful on 9-of-24 attempts from long distance.

LSU was led by Spencer, who totaled 20 points. Tasmin Mitchell was the only other Tiger in double figures with 11 points and 13 rebounds. The Tigers were 35 percent from the field (20-of-57) and 39 percent in 3-pointers (7-of-18).

"We never stop talking about it," Warren said of NCAA Tournament aspirations. "We never gave up hope. We just keep fighting, still fighting. We'll do our part and hope things fall into place."

Up next is a road trip to Arkansas Saturday at 3 p.m. Saturday will be the regular season finale for both Ole Miss and Arkansas.

OM Spirit Top Stories