By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
ATHENS, Ga. – A seemingly comfortable stroll to the finish line turned frantic, but Ole Miss survived a Georgia rally and its own wobbly free throw shooting Saturday afternoon.
Terrance Henry scored 15 of his 24 points in the first 10 minutes, 10 seconds, and the Rebels used a halfcourt trap and zone defense to bottle up the Bulldogs and win 66-63 before a crowd of 8,015 at Stegeman Coliseum.
It was the Rebels’ third straight win here, their first on the SEC road this season, but it didn’t come without anxious moments at the end.
Ole Miss led by 14 after a Reggie Buckner free throw with 5:27 left and kept cold-shooting Georgia at arm’s length. The home team was still 12 points back with 1:11 remaining, but shaved 10 points off the deficit, and after Henry hit the first of two free throws with 9.8 seconds left missed two decent 3-point looks to force overtime.
Ole Miss (13-6, 3-2 SEC) won its second straight but left the door open for Georgia (10-9, 1-4) with late turnovers and missed free throws.
“We were back on our heels. I guess you could say we were playing not to lose, because we were up so much,” junior guard Nick Williams said. “We knew they were going to make a run, but we weathered the storm, and that’s what good teams do.”
The Rebels had 14 turnovers for the game and shot 20 for 35 (57.1 percent) from the free throw line. They were 4 for 10 from the free throw line in the final 1:11. During that time Georgia, which finished 9 for 29 from the arc, hit three 3-point shots, two of them by freshman guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
“We’re immature competitors in some ways,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “You have to play every minute of every game to win in this league. We couldn’t do that, and we didn’t deserve to win this game.”
In the final seconds, Henry hit his first free throw and drew back iron on the second. In their quest for overtime the Bulldogs couldn’t find Caldwell-Pope, who finished with 25 points, 5 for 10 from 3-point range.
They missed first from the corner with Gerald Robinson – who scored 22 against the Rebels in Oxford last year – and then from the other side of the floor with post player Nemanja Djurisic.
Robinson, like Caldwell-Pope, was 50 percent form the arc on the day.
Georgia guard Dustin Ware was less successful, going 0 for 7 from 3-point range as the Rebels took control in the second half.
“The zone was working for us. I thought it made them very stagnant,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “Gerald Robinson is outstanding in the open floor. We saw that last year in Oxford. With the zone he didn’t have as many avenues to drive.
“They were missing and never really got into a rhythm until we started throwing it to them at the end.”
Henry finished 8 for 12 from the floor, 7 for 10 from the free throw line.
He was instrumental defensively as well, again playing at the top, creating a size advantage with his 6-foot-9 frame.
It was a strategy that helped slow down Mississippi State guard Dee Bost for much of the Rebels’ 75-68 win last Wednesday.
Saturday, it created problems for Caldwell-Pope in the first half. He picked up his second foul with 8:21 remaining in the first half.
He played just 10 minutes before the break.
“We wanted to make him guard, and it worked. It was very effective. He picked up two fouls and was out of the game, and that’s when we made our first-half run,” Kennedy said. “It was not the way we would have drawn up finishing the game, but we got it done.”