By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
BATON ROUGE, La. – Ole Miss got about a third of a game from Chris Warren, but it was the most important third.
A thigh bruise sustained a week ago against Tennessee made the Rebels’ point guard a step slower, his coach said, but Warren scored all 14 of his points in the final 8 minutes, 46 seconds, and No. 22 Ole Miss held off LSU 73-63 before 9,403 fans at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Saturday.
The win was the first in Baton Rouge since 2003 for Ole Miss (15-4, 3-2 SEC). It was the second road win for the Rebels, who next play Thursday at Auburn.
LSU dropped to 9-10 overall, 0-5 in the SEC.
Ole Miss was down 54-53 when Warren sank a deep 3-pointer to give the Rebels a lead they would not relinquish.
Warren was 4-for-5 from the floor, 2-for-2 from the arc and 4-for-6 from the free throw line with a 20-9 run.
“He was kind of on cruise control in the first half, but coach said he needed him, and, being a leader, he stepped,” junior guard Eniel Polynice said.
Polynice stepped up as well with 14 points and four rebounds. The biggest step of all, however, came from sophomore Terrance Henry, a native of Monroe, La., who had 14 points, 12 in the first half, including a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left that gave the Rebels a 38-32 halftime lead.
The missing man for the Rebels was Terrico White.
Trying to guard LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell, who pumped in 38 points against Auburn on Wednesday night, White picked up two early fouls and played only five minutes in the first half. He got his third foul quickly in the second half and went to the bench again. White was 3-for-8 from 3-point range here last year but finished Saturday with one point, seven rebounds and 19 minutes.
“We started Terrico on Mitchell, and that backfired. He picked up two quick fouls and wasn’t able to play, and as you can see by his stat line he never got into the flow of the game,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “In the second half we zoned them a lot. We tried to really shade him and attack the ball, and I thought we were much more aggressive.”
Mitchell scored 16 points. He was 4-for-10 from the floor and 8-for-12 from the free throw line.
Ole Miss’ SEC opponents have gone to the free throw line roughly 30 times on average. LSU appeared headed to that end, but the Tigers’ run to the finish was more about missed looks, some of them open, and turnovers against the Ole Miss defense.
LSU was 18-for-23 at the free throw line didn’t get there in the final 9:39.
The Tigers quickly erased their second-half deficit, and the lead changed hands twice before Warren elevated his play. Polynice also had four points in the run, and a penetrate-and-pass assist to Reginald Buckner to answer an LSU basket at the 6:41 mark.
Tigers coach Trent Johnson said his team is in a mismatch in speed and quickness against good opponents. He let the emotions of a fifth-straight SEC loss hang out.
“I’m probably as competitive as they get, and I’ve never been able to deal with it very well,” he said. “This is like dying to me. I don’t care who we play.”