SOUTHAVEN – Ole Miss guard Chris Warren scored a career-high 32 points, and No. 20 Ole Miss rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to beat Texas-El Paso 91-81 in overtime Wednesday before a crowd of 2,171 at the DeSoto Civic Center.
UTEP didn’t take its first lead until 12 minutes, 58 seconds were left in regulation, but from a 54-53 advantage, the Miners built a 70-58 edge after Jeremy Williams scored in transition with 5:31 remaining.
Ole Miss closed regulation on a 14-2 run, almost half of it on two late 3-pointers by Terrico White, two more on a driving layup by Warren with 1:07 to play, his first bucket of the second half.
Zach Graham got the Rebels off to a fast start with a 3-pointer from the left corner on their first possession of the overtime.
Things got better quickly when UTEP center Derrick Caracter fouled out with 3:40 in overtime, and Warren’s drive up the middle gave Ole Miss a seven-point lead.
Playing from ahead, the Rebels were able to hit free throws to get the win.
Ole Miss (9-1) has won five straight and has trailed in the second half in the last three.
“We’re just staying resilient,” Warren said. “Be strong, never stop playing and fight till the end.”
White finished with 19, and Graham had 14 for Ole Miss.
The Rebels were 31-for-42 from the free throw line including 14-for-16 in overtime. Warren was 9-for-10 from the line in overtime.
“We had the right guys shooting,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Making the plays
The Rebels had the right guys making plays on the defensive end, too. Warren was on UTEP guard Randy Culpepper when Culpepper dribbled off his foot and out of bounds with the Miners (5-2) down a point and 49 seconds left in regulation.
“We waited for the other team to hand it to us, and you can’t do that. You have to go make plays,” UTEP coach Tony Barbee said. “We were playing not to lose. You have to play to win.”
Warren reached his average in the first half but had trouble getting good looks after that was UTEP worked hard to deny him the ball.
Warren had 17 points going 5-for-6 from 3-point range but was scoreless over the last 5 minutes of the first half, and that was a sign of things to come.
Culpepper, one of five players on the team from Memphis, finished with 19, Caracter with 15 points and 15 rebounds and, they both fueled the 11-0 second-half run that had the Miners looking for glory on the road.
An athletic 6-9, 275-pound presence in the post, Caracter gave the Rebels problems, and their post players got in foul trouble trying to guard him. Murphy Holloway and DeAundre Cranston both fouled out for Ole Miss.
“We had to go small, but that was the lineup that changed the tempo,” Kennedy said. “We were scrappy, and we were getting to loose balls. Graham hit the (overtime) 3, and we followed that up with another stop and from that moment we were in control.”
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal