By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss lost its biggest SEC home games this season but Tuesday night treated its fans to a final 3 minutes – plus two overtimes – that they won’t soon forget.
A Tad Smith Coliseum crowd of 6,014 watched the Rebels edge Texas Tech and earn a trip to New York City with:
- A frantic double-digit come back at the end of regulation.
- A rally from a four-point deficit in the first overtime.
- A technical against their coach in the first overtime.
- And finally a big play to end it from the little guy, whose big plays had been limited by Texas Tech.
Chris Warren’s length of the floor drive was capped with a dish to Murphy Holloway and a three-point play with three seconds left in the second overtime, and NIT No. 2 seed Ole Miss defeated 5 seed Texas Tech 90-87 to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden for the second time in three years.
“We’re just resilient,” said Holloway, the Rebels poster child for energy and passion. “We’re going to keep going hard, keep coming back, keep playing hard till it’s over.”
In the Rebels’ last eight wins, five required double-figure comebacks in the second half. Ole Miss (24-10) will face the Illinois-Dayton quarterfinal winner in the semifinals.
Holloway finished both overtimes for the Rebels. His put-back of a Terrico White miss with 8.2 seconds left in the first overtime tied the game at 79.
Holloway had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He had six rebounds on the offensive end and five steals.
“With four fouls he was still active. He got his hands on balls and kept them alive,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “With the last play, Chris got a head of steam, and I thought we’d get a good shot. Murph was Johnny on the spot.”
The Rebels led 48-39 with 11:29 left in regulation. They were unable to further distance themselves, and Tech went on a 28-9 run to lead 67-57 with 2:27 left.
The Rebels’ full-court pressure bothered Tech (19-16) and was pivotal in the late rally that ended when Terrico White’s leaner with 25.5 seconds left forced the first overtime.
“We had to create possessions. We were running out of time, and they mishandled a couple,” Kennedy said.
Tech’s 18 turnovers led directly to 25 points.
“We got going too fast, which is why they pressure,” Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said. “Instead of taking our time and being patient, we tried to run with them. We can’t do that.”
White, after averaging 24 points in the Rebels’ first two NIT wins, hit four of his last seven shots after a horrid start. He was 0-for-6 from 3-point range but finished with 17 points.
After going 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, Warren, who led Ole Miss with 22 points, was 0-for-5 from the arc in the last 30 minutes.
The Red Raiders employed no special defense but did a better job of switching defensively against him, Knight said.
Warren had four assists, four turnovers and played 47 minutes. Only Tech’s top gun, swing man Mike Singletary, played more. He had 10 points in the 28-9 run and finished with a game-high 28 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
Ole Miss trailed 78-75 with 1:13 left in the first overtime after a technical against Kennedy for advancing too far on the court to question an official. The Rebels were still three points back with 37.5 seconds left when Terrance Henry knocked down two free throws.
Ole Miss was 19-for-31 from the line and hit 11 of its last 12.
The Rebels led most of the second overtime but were tied twice, the second time when Tech’s David Tairu tripled from the left wing with 8.2 seconds left.
That tied the game at 87, but the Red Raiders were unable to deny Warren the in-bounds pass, a fatal mistake.
“The plan was to get to the middle and get a pick, but when that didn’t happen, I was able to drive and draw a guy to me. Murph was strong enough to finish.”