By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss seniors Chris Warren and Zach Graham exited the building in style Saturday in a performance that in many ways mirrored their careers: Warren took the lead, and Graham played big in the support role.
The Rebels rode a hot 3-point shooting half and held off an Arkansas charge for an 84-74 victory and a sweep of the Razorbacks before 8,053 fans at Tad Smith Coliseum Saturday.
Ole Miss won 69-60 earlier this year in Fayetteville.
Warren had 24 points and nine assists, and Graham added 15 points on 5 for 6 3-point shooting.
“It would have been a shame for them to play that well, then for us to play well and then not come out with a victory,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Rebels (19-12, 7-9 SEC) earned the No. 3 seed in the Western Division and will face East No. 6 seed South Carolina Thursday at 2:30 p.m., in the SEC tournament.
Ole Miss was 14 for 22 from 3-point range, tying the school record for 3-point shots in a game. Warren was 4 for 7 from the arc.
“Me and Z had a conversation before the game,” Warren said. “We just said we can’t lose our last game here. The team played for us, and we came out with energy and won.”
Warren and Graham exited to a loud standing ovation with 43 seconds left.
“It was really good for us to be up like that. We just wanted to stay poised and make sure we got the win,” Graham said.
Arkansas (18-12, 7-9 SEC) wasn’t bad either, going 10 for 18 from 3-point range, most of it by long-distance specialist Rotnei Clarke who was 5 for 7 from the arc and scored a game-high 26 points.
Clarke was just 3 for 10 from 3-point range in the first round against Ole Miss.
“I thought we battled and hung in there and gave ourselves a chance,” Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. “Defensively, we just couldn’t cool them off.”
The Rebels hit nine of their first 12 3-point shots and had a 15-point first-half lead until Arkansas climbed back to within six, down 43-37, at halftime.
Arkansas got the lead down to one at 53-52 on a 3-pointer by Mardracus Wade with 14:22 to play, but Ole Miss surged ahead with a 21-2 run for a 74-57 advantage with 6:06 remaining.
The Razorbacks when 9:37 between field goals, the streak finally broken by Clarke’s floater at the 4:45 mark.
“The game changed for us defensively,” Kennedy said. “There was a lot of volleying back and forth. Neither team really had control, but we put together three or four consecutive stops and strung together some baskets.”
Ole Miss sophomore Reggie Buckner, who tied a school record with eight blocked shots in Fayetteville, had seven more against the Hogs the second time around.
Terrance Henry added 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and Buckner had nine points and eight rebounds.
“It wasn’t our goal to be third in the West, but that’s where we are,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been here four years, and two of those years a team has four games (in the SEC tournament). It can be done. Can we do it? We’ll see.”
Game summary, Page 2B