Rebels Rally 'Round Reed In 66-59 Win Over MSU

Jan 12, 2002

Box Score

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By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP Sports Writer

OXFORD, Miss. - Aaron Harper didn't think reporters would be looking for him after a 3-for-13 shooting performance.

"I didn't have a good game," the sophomore swingman said with an embarrassed grin.

No, but he did hit the two biggest shots in Mississippi's 66-59 victory over No. 22 Mississippi State on Saturday.

Harper, who leads the team in 3-pointers, missed his first five attempts as Ole Miss was just 1-of-11 from behind the arc in the first half.

"I told him to keep on shooting," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said.

Harper did.

He made his first 3-pointer 63 seconds into the second half to give the Rebels (13-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) a lead, 28-26, for the first time since early in the game. The shot brought the home crowd to life and revved up the Rebels after a frustrating first half.

Harper also put the brakes on a late Bulldogs' rally with another 3.

"I have the Michael Jordan mentality," he said. "I want to take the big shot."

The Bulldogs (14-3, 1-2) entered the rankings this week for the first time in six years on the strength of last Saturday's upset of Kentucky. It may be a short stay after losing two straight road games.

Michael Gholar said he didn't think a Kentucky hangover was responsible for the Bulldogs' lost week.

"Ole Miss is a big rival and if you can't get up for that you shouldn't be playing college basketball," said Gholar, who had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Mario Austin led Mississippi State with 18 points and Timmy Bowers had 13.

Ole Miss came in leading the SEC in 3-point shooting at 41 percent, but that weapon wasn't working against the Bulldogs' zone.

While the Rebels were trying to find their range from deep, they leaned on Justin Reed and undersized center Derrick Allen.

 

 

Reed scored 17 points and Allen had 13. The 6-foot-8 forwards matched the bigger Bulldogs in the paint and combined to shoot 9-for-18. The rest of the Rebels were 9-for-31, including 6-for-22 from 3.

Thanks to Allen and Reed, the Rebels also held their own against one of the top rebounding teams in the country. The two combined for 14 boards and Mississippi State, which usually outrebounds its opponents by nearly 10 per game, held a 39-33 advantage.

"I don't believe size really matters," said Reed, the Rebels' leading scorer and rebounder. "Regardless of how tall we are we're ready to play."

The Rebels appeared to be in trouble when Reed fouled out with 2:17 left as Austin drew the call while scoring.

The bulky 6-9 center completed the three-point play to cut the Ole Miss lead to 55-52.

With Reed looking on, Harper took aim from in front of the Rebels' bench and swished a 3-pointer that gave Ole Miss a 58-52 lead with 2:02 left.

"I knew when it left my hand it felt good," Harper said.

The Bulldogs failed to take advantage of the Rebels' poor-shooting first half. Mississippi State turned the ball over 10 times and led 26-22 at halftime as Ole Miss made less than 30 percent of its shots.

"I thought at halftime we should have been up by 10," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said.

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