BY PARRISH ALFORD
OXFORD – Ole Miss got a less-than-average game from its offensive centerpiece, but Marvin Moore was there to pick up the slack Wednesday night.
The Rebels received a lift from their bench with Moore and Todd Abernethy and some late defense from point guard Cavadas Nunnery to earn their first Southeastern Conference win, 59-54, against Georgia before a Tad Smith Coliseum crowd of 3,052.
The visiting Bulldogs limited center Tommie Eddie to four field goal attempts – none in the second half – but Moore responded with 10 points on 3-for-5 field goal shooting. He scored on aggressive moves to the goal and from the free throw line, going 4-for-5.
Abernethy added 13 points, as the Rebels got 26 points from their reserves.
Georgia overcame a horrid first half, shooting just 25.9 percent, to stay close with forward Steve Newman, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
Ole Miss (10-6, 1-2 SEC) shot just 40 percent for the game but held Georgia (6-7, 0-3) to 33 percent shooting and forced the Bulldogs into 21 turnovers.
The Rebels collected 12 steals, none bigger than Nunnery's grab of a Newman pass from under the Ole Miss goal intended for guard Sundiata Gaines near midcourt. Georgia trailed by four then with under a minute to
“You guys can write that it was ugly, and that's OK with me,” Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said. “I've been through too many tough situations in this league not to take a win.”
The job was made tougher by Eddie's struggles. Eddie's only score from the field came on a transition dunk with 1 second left in the first half for a 31-23 Ole Miss lead.
He did get to the free throw line, going 6-for-8 there, including a 5-for-6 effort in the second half.
“When Tommie doesn't score it's tough. You could see that at Arkansas (a 69-46 loss),” Barnes said. “But Marvin hasn't hurt us when he's been out there, and he's starting to gain some confidence. We need him to give us more of a post presence.”
Moore also had four rebounds and a steal in 17 minutes.
“Coach tells us every day that you never know when your time is going to come, but when it does, you have to be aggressive. Being the player that I am, I just tried to attack the basket.”
It was the first time since Nov. 15 that Moore has scored more than five points in a game.
Georgia made one last push in the final 1:41. A free throw by Londrick Nolen gave the Rebels a 58-52 lead. But Nolen missed his second attempt, and the scramble that ensued resulted in a pileup, a skirmish and a six-minute delay.
When the smoke cleared Ole Miss' Nolen and Justin Johnson were assessed technical fouls, along with Georgia's Gaines and Levi Stukes. The play finished up Nolen and Johnson, who each drew a fifth personal foul in the process.
The Bulldogs gained possession on the alternating possession and scored on a short jumper by Channing Toney with 1:09 left. They still had life after Nunnery forced a shot with the shot clock winding down, but the Rebels' guard responded with a steal to seal the win.
“Coach Barnes' teams do such a good job of defending and holding people down, but despite the woeful game we played on offense, we fought hard and made them struggle too,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. “That's why we had a chance to win at the end.”