By The Associated Press
OXFORD — Dundrecous Nelson scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, as Ole Miss defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 66-54 Wednesday night for its sixth consecutive win.
Nick Williams added 12 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists for the Rebels (9-1), who shot 24 of 55 (43.6 percent) from the field.
Darshawn McClellan and Bryant Mbamulu led the Ragin’ Cajuns (5-7) with 12 points apiece while Josh Brown added 11. McClellan also grabbed nine rebounds.
Jelan Kendrick, a highly touted freshman guard who was ruled eligible by the NCAA after completing academic requirements on Monday, did not play due to “a coach’s decision,” said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy.
Kendrick, a transfer from Memphis, was a McDonald’s All-American selection as a prep senior two seasons ago. He is recovering from hernia surgery, but was expected to make his playing debut against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Both clubs struggled offensively in the opening 11 minutes, combining for 13 turnovers. The Ragin’ Cajuns built their biggest lead, 12-6, highlighted by a pair of baskets from Mbamalu, with 10:55 left.
Ole Miss answered with a decisive 14-0 run, capped by a three-point play by Terrance Henry for a 20-12 lead with 7:41 remaining. The Rebels led by as many as 14 points before Louisiana-Lafayette pulled within 34-27 at halftime.
The Ragin’ Cajuns never got closer than six points in the second half. Ole Miss led by as many as 19 points on two occasions, the final time on a 3-point shot from Nelson for a 63-44 lead with 7:02 left.
Both teams had difficulty at the free-throw line, as Ole Miss finished 10 of 18 (55.6 percent). Louisiana-Lafayette was worse, hitting 11 of 21 (42.1 percent).
The Cajuns missed 4 of 6 free throws midway through the second half while trailing 45-34. Louisiana-Lafayette never had an opportunity to pull within 10 points again.
Ole Miss out rebounded Louisiana-Lafayette 35-34, led by Murphy Holloway with 10 boards. The Rebels forced 19 turnovers as the Ragin’ Cajuns struggled from the field, managing 19 of 50 (38 percent).
Read more in Thursday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.