No. 12 Mississippi Dominates Inside, Downs Auburn 64-62
Feb. 24, 2001
By RALPH D. RUSSO
OXFORD, Miss. Justin Reed was almost an Auburn Tiger. Instead, he has become a Tiger killer.
The talented freshman matched a career high with 21 points to lead No. 12 Mississippi past pesky Auburn 64-62 on Saturday.
Reed, from Jackson, Miss., verbally committed to Auburn while in high school, but changed his mind and decided to go to Mississippi. His stellar play has been pivotal to the Rebels' surprising season - and he has been especially tough on the Tigers.
Reed said he still thinks about his big decision, but doesn't have the slightest regret.
"(Auburn) Coach (Cliff) Ellis and I have a real special relationship," said Reed, who has scored 37 points in two games against Auburn, both close Rebels wins. "He spent a lot of time at my house."
Reed said when he went to the line to shoot two critical free throws in the final minute, Ellis tried to psych him out.
"He said, 'This guy can't throw the ball in the ocean,"' said Reed, just 3-for-8 from the line. But he sank the second of two shots to give the Rebels a 64-62 lead with 17 seconds left.
"I looked at him (Ellis) and smiled," Reed said.
"Justin Reed is a terrific player," Ellis said.
Reed and center Rahim Lockhart, who scored 16 points for the Rebels (22-5, 10-4 Southeastern Conference), overpowered the Tigers, especially after center Kyle Davis got in early foul trouble.
"We were dominated inside," Ellis said.
The 6-foot-8 Reed and 6-8, 250-pound Lockhart combined to go 14-for-21 from the field and grab 22 rebounds.
But the Tigers (16-11, 6-8), desperately in need of wins to keep their NCAA
tournament hopes alive, managed to stay close throughout and had a chance to
tie after Reed's foul shots.
The Tigers cleared out for Adam Harrington, who tried to take Reed off the dribble, but Reed stayed close and got some help from a teammate. Harrington's jumper from about 16 feet over Reed's extended arm hit the front of the rim and the Rebels rebounded the miss at the buzzer.
"It was not a set play, but I had a shot and I took it," said Harrington, who led Auburn with 16 points. "Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't."
Marquis Daniels had 14 points for the Tigers, including a steal that he converted into a three-point play to cut the Rebels' lead to 63-62 with 18.5 seconds left.
Poor free-throw shooting also prevented Ole Miss from sealing the game down the stretch. The Rebels were 12-for-25 from the line, including six straight misses before Reed's final shot.
Ole Miss holds a two-game lead in the SEC West, taking advantage of Florida's victory 89-68 victory over second-place Alabama. The Rebels tied a school record for victories in a season and clinched at least a tie for the division title with two games to play.
"I knew at the beginning of the season this was a team that could be in a position to do a lot of great things," Lockhart said. "Now, everyone else is starting to know that I have known for a while."
Auburn missed its first 10 shots, but Ole Miss was also misfiring and couldn't build a substantial lead. Auburn recovered from the poor start to make 12 of its next 18 and trailed 35-31 at the half.
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