By Kurt Voight/The Associated Press
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Andy Kennedy knows there’s nothing Mississippi can do about its four-game losing streak to open Southeastern Conference play.
The Ole Miss coach knows it happened. It’s not going away.
While the Rebels can’t change the past, they continued to try and climb out of the early hole with a 69-60 win over Arkansas on Saturday night. Chris Warren, the hero of a last-second win over Kentucky earlier in the week, scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half as the Rebels (15-8, 3-5) pulled away for their third win in four games since the dismal conference start.
“We realize that we are now complete with the first half of the SEC season,” Kennedy said. “And at 3-5, we certainly are not where we were hoping for, but we’re garnering a little momentum.
“We’re starting to realize that if we can get effort and productivity from a number of different guys, not just (Warren), we’re pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Arkansas (14-8, 4-5) lost its second straight at home after opening the season 12-0 in Fayetteville. The back-to-back losses come after the Razorbacks’ appeared poised to make a move in the SEC following a road win at Vanderbilt last week.
“It’s frustrating, especially coming off a road win,” Arkansas junior Rotnei Clarke said. “We knew we had an opportunity to get two here at home, and this is tough. Especially with us being undefeated and us dropping two straight at home is tough.”
The game was tied 43-43 in the second half when Arkansas’ Michael Sanchez was fouled by Trevor Gaskins. However, following the foul, Sanchez connected with a swinging elbow to Gaskins’ head and was called for a technical foul.
Sanchez missed the front end of his 1-and-1 free throw, while Warren made both the technical shots to put the Rebels up 45-43. That started a 17-4 run for Ole Miss, which went up 60-47 and never led by less than eight after that.
“For whatever reason, we never got quite right after that,” Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said.
Warren had seven of his points during the run after scoring just four in the first half on 1 of 6 shooting. The Rebels led by as many as 12 points in the first half, never trailing despite shooting just 39 percent (13 of 33) in the half.
Part of the reason for the quick start was the play of Zach Graham, who had seven of Ole Miss’ first nine points and finished with 17. Also, the Razorbacks hit just 9 of 25 (36 percent) shots in the half.
Arkansas appeared out of sorts early on offense without sophomore Marshawn Powell in the starting lineup thanks to an ankle injury suffered during the pregame shootaround. The Razorbacks first two possessions each ended in turnovers after intended entry passes for Delvon Johnson sailed into the first row.
The third ended when Ole Miss’ Reginald Buckner blocked Jeff Peterson’s layup attempt, Buckner’s school-record 65th block of the season. Bucker finished with eight blocks, tying the school record, to go along with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Rebels finished with 12 blocked as a team, with Terrance Henry adding three.
“They say they feed off my energy, so I just played hard and tried to block everything,” Buckner said.
Powell entered the game with 14:40 remaining in the first half and scored on his first possession to pull Arkansas within 13-4. After Gaskins connected on a 3-pointer to put Mississippi up 16-4, the Razorbacks responded with a 13-2 run to close to within 18-17 after a putback by Julysses Nobles.
Arkansas never led in the half, trailing 33-27 at halftime after Powell scored its final six points of the half. Powell had 19 points despite the injury off the bench for the Razorbacks, who briefly led early in the second half.
They opened the second half with an 11-5 run, tying the game at 36 after a putback by Nobles and going ahead 38-36 after a steal and layup by Mardracus Wade. Arkansas led one more time at 39-38, but Ole Miss took control with its big run shortly after that.
“When we beat Kentucky, it just showed our team if we play hard we’re going to be successful,” Warren said. “We brought it into tonight and got the victory, so hopefully that will carry over.”