By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Twenty minutes worth of first-half sins were forgiven on Wednesday night with a blistering 10 1/2-minute run for Ole Miss.
The Rebels overcame poor shooting and 12 first-half turnovers with 63 points in the second half – 43 in the last 10 minutes, 42 seconds – to beat Auburn 85-75 and keep alive a chance to finish with a winning record in the SEC and play meaningful games in March.
Auburn guard Tay Waller went 8-for-11 from 3-point range and scored 29 points, but his opportunities were fewer as Zach Graham chased him around the floor down the stretch.
It was Graham’s basket at the 10:42 mark that started a 43-19 run to close the game.
“We showed tremendous resiliency for a team that has not had a lot of success lately,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We played as well as we could for 15 minutes.”
It was very much a “we” effort. Chris Warren and Terrico White did most of the heavy lifting, Warren finishing with 26 points and White with 21, their best combined game Warren had 27 and White 25 against Kansas State in Puerto Rico.
The Rebels also got 15 points and a career-high 20 rebounds from Murphy Holloway, and nine points from Graham, seven of them in the decisive run.
“They got into a rhythm on offense,” Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. “They got three or four guys going. I think that’s what’s been frustrating Andy. They’ve had one guy or two. When they have three or four they’re hard to guard.”
The Rebels (18-9, 6-7 SEC) turned the ball over only three times in the final 20 minutes and shot 67.9 percent compared to 24.1 in the first half.
The win completes a season sweep of Auburn (13-15, 4-9 SEC) which led 56-42 after Lucas Hargrove’s bucket in the lane with 11:04 remaining.
Ole Miss would score on its next six possessions.
The Rebels took their first lead on White’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 4:26 left and went ahead for good when Warren answered a Waller 3-pointer with his on triple from NBA range. That made it 71-69 at the 3:17 mark.
Ole Miss was 5-for-11 from 3-point range in the second half, but offense wasn’t only about hitting from the arc.
Kennedy had stressed attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line, an approach often absent as the Rebels had lost five of their last six when play began.
White was more aggressive from the get go, and as the game unfolded Warren had chances to finish as well.
The Rebels had 37 free throw attempts and 26 makes, both season highs. Warren was 6-for-6 from the line, while White, who was averaging two free throw attempts in SEC play, was 8-for-11.
Led by the energy from Holloway who was struggling with illness earlier in the week, the Rebels had a 50-29 edge on the glass.
“We just meshed,” Holloway said. “Chris got going, and Terrico came on. Then Zach came off the bench and gave us a big spark. We meshed, and we kept on going.”