Rebels Drop Heartbreaker to Razorbacks
M.J. Rhett
Feb. 14, 2015

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OXFORD, Miss. - Junior guard Stefan Moody and senior forward M.J. Rhett each scored 16 points to lead the Rebels, but Ole Miss (17-8, 8-4 SEC) fell in the last seconds to Arkansas (20-5, 9-3 SEC) 71-70 Saturday night.

"It was a high-level game," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "It was a very physical game. Two teams fighting for their lives. We made the shot Thursday night (against Florida) in a highly-contested game. We missed the shot tonight, and Arkansas made the play. I told the team that I didn't think we lost the game; I thought Arkansas won it.

"We dominated them on the glass, up 14. We had eight turnovers at the half and we finish with 10. We shoot 38 percent in our own building; they shoot 48 percent. They earned the win.

After trailing for much of the game, the Rebels went ahead 61-59 on a 3-pointer by senior guard Terence Smith with 8:03 left and led until the closing seconds of the game. Down 70-69, Arkansas sophomore guard Manuale Watkins hit a floater in the lane with 6.4 seconds left. Senior guard Jarvis Summers drove the length of the floor and had a final look at the basket on the other end but his floater was off the mark.

"I would have preferred that he had gotten a little deeper and stayed to his right hand," Kennedy said. "My philosophy, especially in that situation, when they just hit a big emotional shot, it's better to attack in the open floor."

Rhett was one rebound shy of recording his first double-double in an Ole Miss uniform, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. His 16 points was his most in an Ole Miss uniform, four shy of tying his career high. Junior guard Martavious Newby grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, which was also a career high for him.

Led by Rhett and Newby, the Rebels won the rebounding battle, 45-31, a margin that included 21 offensive rebounds compared to nine for the Razorbacks. Ole Miss shot 12 more free throws, going 15-for-12 from the line, and committed just 10 turnovers, but they were unable to overcome 37.9 percent shooting, including a 5-for-20 mark from 3-point range.

"M.J. was really, really good," Kennedy said. "We had action where we were getting a switch because of the way they played and he took advantage of that. He played tremendous for us. Dwight Coleby gave us a good presence at the end. That's why he was in the game at the end. Newby gets loose balls. That's why he plays."

In a hotly contested first half, Arkansas shot 51 percent from the floor and took a 40-36 lead into halftime. Ole Miss remained close by going 11-for-14 from the free-throw line, despite 34 percent shooting from the floor, including just 1-for-9 shooting from 3-point range.

Rhett scored each of the first four points of the second half to tie the game at 40-40 with 18:33 left, the first of five ties in the half. Arkansas pushed the lead to five, 57-52, its largest lead of the half, before Ole Miss answered with four straight to get within one.

The Rebels briefly went ahead, 58-57, on a jumper by senior guard LaDarius White with 8:35 left, their first lead since the 17:58 mark in the first half, before falling behind 59-58 and then regaining a 61-59 lead on Smith's 3-pointer with 8:03 left.

Ole Miss pushed the lead to five, 66-61, on a jumper by Rhett with 3:59 left, before Arkansas outscored the Rebels 9-4 the rest of the way, including the game-winner by Watkins.

"We had a chance to win if we could have come up with one last stop," Kennedy said. "Arkansas made the play they needed to make."

Ole Miss returns to action Thursday, going on the road to Mississippi State (8 p.m. CT, ESPN2), followed by back-to-back home games, starting with Tennessee next Saturday (6:30 p.m., CT, ESPNU).


 

 

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