By Parrish Alford
ATLANTA – Ole Miss jumped out in front of Georgia on Friday night but couldn’t hold on.
The Bulldogs were in attack mode in the second half and ousted Ole Miss from the SEC tournament with a 75-73 quarterfinal win at the Georgia Dome.
Georgia got three shots on its last possession, and finally Charles Mann grabbed a loose ball and got to the rim for a layup and a one-point advantage.
“It bounced my way and I just wanted to pick it up and attack the rim,” Mann said.
The Rebels had a chance with the shot clock off, but Marshall Henderson could not hit it then fouled on the rebound.
The Bulldogs hit one of two free throws on the other end, and after a timeout with 2.6 seconds left, Jarvis Summers couldn’t hit from just in front of the Rebels’ bench.
Georgia (19-12) has been the SEC’s turnaround story, earning a No. 3 seed, and will take on Kentucky in the semifinals.
The Rebels (19-13) may be finished. They’ll find out Sunday night if they’ve done enough to earn an NIT bid. It would be their sixth under coach Andy Kennedy.
“I think there’s a chance,” Kennedy said. “I would love to play in the NIT if we were given the opportunity.”
The Rebels were playing their second game in two days, Georgia its first, a fact not lost on Bulldogs coach Mark Fox, who had his players go hard to the rim at every opportunity.
Midway through the second half, the Bulldogs were on a pace for more than 20 free throws in 20 minutes.
They finished 31 for 42 from the free throw line – 21 for 28 in the second half.
The Rebels, for a time, responded with a couple of buckets inside by Sebastian Saiz and a Henderson 3-pointer from the key with 11 minutes, 26 seconds left to provide a three-point cushion.
Summers finished with a game-high 26 points on 10 for 16 shooting. In what might have been his last game, Henderson endured game-long taunting from Georgia fans and had 19 points on 2 for 16 3-point shooting.
Henderson, emotional after the game, said his teammates encouraged him to keep shooting.
“They just said, ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting. We’ll live and die with it,”’ Henderson said.
“It was hard. There are so many thoughts running through my head. It’s crushing, in my heart, because I wanted it so bad for everyone. I take the blame for that. And that’s what hurts.”
Mann led four Georgia players in double figures with 16 points, 10 in the second half.
Two Donte Williams free throws gave Georgia a 57-56 lead with 9:16 left.
The advantage rotated back and forth as Ole Miss bigs fouled out, Dwight Coleby at the 8-minute mark, Saiz at 3:38.
Still, the Rebels hung around.
Henderson kept firing 3s that weren’t particularly close, but a Summers free throw put Ole Miss ahead 71-70 with 1:41 left.
Mann countered with two free throws, but it was Summers again, with a hand in his face, with 45.5 seconds left for a 73-72 Ole Miss lead.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.