Ole Miss Upsets No. 4 Auburn In OT
Jan. 22, 2000
By RALPH D. RUSSO
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - After dodging upsets for three games with last minute-heroics, a most unlikely opponent finally knocked off Auburn.
Mississippi broke a five-game Southeastern Conference losing streak by beating the fourth-ranked Tigers 79-77 in overtime on Saturday.
Lataryl Williams' putback with 38 seconds left provided a lead for Ole Miss (13-6 overall, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) and Jason Flanigan sealed the upset with two free throws with 9 seconds left.
The Tigers (16-2, 4-1) had won 14 straight, although the last three victories were by a combined 13 points and had all been decided in the closing minutes.
"This is the fourth game in a row that we have been in like this," Tigers coach Cliff Ellis said. "We had our opportunities as did Ole Miss and Ole Miss capitalized."
Ellis said the upset proves what he has felt all along, that the SEC is as tough as any conference in the country.
"From top to bottom the SEC is perhaps, with the Big Ten, the best league," he said. "I don't know where you can go find a game in this league where you can go, `OK, just go out there and play and have fun.' You better come to play every night, home or away or you're going to get beat."
After beating Kentucky at home on Jan. 11, the Tigers went to the wire to defeat Mississippi State and South Carolina.
The struggling Rebels proved Ellis right by making big shots when they needed them most.
Jason Harrison hit a 3-pointer with 3:15 left in overtime, giving Ole Miss a 71-68 lead. Harrison, John Gunn and Jason Flanigan each had 13 points for Ole Miss.
Harrison fouled out on the next possession. Doc Robinson made one free throw, but the second was waved off because of a lane violation.
Then the Rebels' Darrian Brown hit a 3 and Ole Miss was up 74-69 with 2:43 left.
"They made big outside shots, and that was something we weren't
expecting," Ellis said. "That hasn't been their forte."
Auburn regained the lead with 57 seconds left on six straight free throws.
On the next possession, Williams rebounded Brown's missed jumper and his reverse layup gave the Rebels a 76-75 lead. Williams had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Auburn is the second-best rebounding team in the SEC, but Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said he thought his team's quickness could make up for Auburn's size advantage.
"They have some great big guys and they're going to block out, but I thought if we just kept going to the glass we could get one or two offensive rebounds in big situations," Barnes said. "When it happened I said, `That's what I'm talking about."'
Auburn tried to free up Scott Pohlman, who led the Tigers with 19 points, on its next possession. But he was called for traveling with 9.8 seconds left cutting into the lane.
"I had an open lane but I just went too quick," Pohlman said. "I should have shot it."
Auburn fouled Flanigan, who hit both free throws, making it 78-75.
A layup by Mamadou N'diaye with a 1.4 seconds left cut the lead to two. Emmanuel Wade hit one free throw, and after Chris Porter's desperation heave at the buzzer fell short, the crowd at Tad Smith Coliseum rushed the floor.
Auburn was the third straight ranked opponent Ole Miss had played in eight days. The Rebels lost to No. 12 Tennessee and No. 18 Kentucky.
"You call it Murderers' row. I called it Ranked Row," Barnes said. "I think it will make our team tougher, but I have never questioned the toughness of this team."
The 0-5 start in the SEC was the Rebels' worst since the 1995-96 season. They were the only team left in the SEC without a conference victory.
Robinson's jumper gave Auburn a 66-64 lead with 49 seconds left in regulation. Harrison answered with a scoop shot, tying the score with 33 seconds left.
Robinson missed a 20-foot jumper in the closing seconds of regulation and Porter couldn't tap in the rebound.
Robinson has been Auburn's go-to guy during the recent string of close games, but this time he couldn't bail out the Tigers.
"It felt good, but it just didn't fall this time," Robinson said.
Auburn hadn't lost since a 67-58 defeat to Stanford on Nov. 27 in the Wooden Classic.
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