By David Brandt/The Associated Press
OXFORD — First there was the terrible shooting touch and then a power outage plunged Tad Smith Coliseum into darkness.
Ole Miss senior Murphy Holloway could have been frustrated, but instead he just laughed it off. Not much can faze these Rebels, and now they’re off to their best start in Southeastern Conference play since the 1936-37 season.
Marshall Henderson scored 16 points, Murphy Holloway added 15 and Ole Miss slowly pulled away late in the second half for a 76-64 victory over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m proud that our team continues to find a way to win,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We’ve still got a lot of things that we can improve. It’s the first time we’ve started 4-0 since 1937, but that actually has absolutely nothing to do with this group. They don’t think about any of that stuff. It’s just about us getting better and getting to the next game. Obviously, the spotlight’s gotten a little brighter.”
The hard-fought game was stopped by an approximately 30-minute long power outage with 5:37 left in the first half, which school officials said was due to a power failure that affected a large chunk of the campus. Ole Miss led 24-21 when the court went dark, and the Rebels seemed to respond better to the lengthy delay, pushing the lead to 34-26 by halftime when play finally resumed.
“(Arkansas was) probably more mad about it then we were,” Holloway said with a grin. “We go to Ole Miss — a lot of stuff doesn’t work right around here.”
Ole Miss’ home court — affectionately known as the “Tad Pad” — is one of the older facilities in the SEC and isn’t known for its aesthetic beauty. It’s also had issues before, like during a Ole Miss-Tennessee women’s game in 2011 when a rainstorm outside leaked through the roof and flooded the floor.
But when the lights were on during Saturday’s game, the Tad Pad was loud. The school announced a second straight sellout.
The Rebels didn’t make a 3-pointer in the first half, but hit six of them after halftime to slowly pull away. Jarvis Summers and Nick Williams both added 14 points to help extend the team’s winning streak to seven games.
Williams began the season as a starter, but has moved into a sixth man role that he’s embraced. He was 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
“I had to get used to it at first,” Williams said. “Me and coach talked about some ways I can help the team and we thought that was best.”
Arkansas (11-6, 2-2) recovered from a 13-point deficit early in the second half to tie the game at 50 with 10:59 remaining. Marshawn Powell scored 16 points to lead the Razorbacks while B.J. Young scored 14 and Hunter Mickelson added 10.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said the 30-minute lull in action hurt his team’s momentum.
“That’s really weird,” Anderson said. “I thought it had an effect on our team. I’m not taking anything away from Ole Miss because I thought they played well. It was a game of runs. We made a run and had an opportunity to take the lead, but then they made some tremendous hustle plays.”
The Rebels pushed their lead to 41-28 with 17:40 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer by Williams, but then Arkansas started a methodical comeback. The Razorbacks went on a 22-9 run over a little less than seven minutes, tying the game at 50 on Rickey Scott’s basket with 10:59 left.
But Arkansas could never take the lead. Henderson and Williams hit back-to-back 3-pointers half to push Ole Miss ahead 58-52 and the Razorbacks could never mount another serious challenge.
“We just didn’t make the plays down the stretch,” Anderson said. “Our inability to take care of the ball really cost us.”
Ole Miss shot just 28 of 70 from the field (40 percent), but forced 19 Arkansas turnovers. Henderson is the SEC’s leading scorer, averaging more than 19 points per game, but he shot just 5 of 16 from the field.
Holloway made 7 of 13 shots from the field and added a game-high 11 rebounds for the 34th double-double of his career. Reginald Buckner blocked four shots.
Ole Miss continued its dominance in the series with Arkansas. The Rebels have won 22 out of the past 30 against the Razorbacks, including nine of the last 10 and six in a row.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP
Read more in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.