No. 14 Ole Miss Dismisses Volunteers, 86-73

March 9, 2001

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By ELIZABETH A. DAVIS
AP Sports Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi won with a simple formula all season long, and the Rebels weren't about to get away from it in the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Ole Miss likes to go inside to center Rahim Lockhart and then outside to its committee of guards.

That plan worked to perfection again Friday as reserve guard Aaron Harper scored 21 points, and Lockhart added 17 to lead No. 14 Mississippi into the semifinals with an 86-73 victory over Tennessee.

"This is nothing we didn't start the first day of practice," said Mississippi's Rod Barnes, the SEC coach of the year.

Ole Miss (24-6), which won the SEC West after being tied for last place a year ago, led almost the entire way.

The Volunteers (22-10) cut the lead to six twice in the final 1:06, but Ole Miss went 10-of-10 from the foul line in the last 50 seconds.

"We came out trying to win. We're not going to let anything stop us from our goal," Lockhart said.

The Vols, who beat Auburn 73-66 in the first round for their fourth straight victory, remain the only SEC school that hasn't reached the semifinals since the league expanded to 12 teams in 1992.

Ron Slay scored 20 points, and Isiah Victor had 10 for Tennessee.

Harper was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line, and Lockhart grabbed 11 rebounds for Mississippi. Jason Holmes also had 14 points for the Rebels.

Lockhart, guarded by Slay for most of the game, scored 13 points in the first half.

"In the first half, he got me," Slay said. "I started fronting him in the second half and took him out of his game."

The battle under the basket was tough. Mississippi's Justin Reed went down holding his face, and a team trainer picked up a tooth laying nearby.

 

 

Barnes was worried that Reed might also have a concussion.

"That took a lot out of our guys. I hope we can get some rest," Barnes said.

Tennessee got as close as four in the second half when Jenis Grindstaff hit a 3 and again after he made two free throws to trim it to 54-50 with 7:48 left. But Holmes' 3-pointer put Ole Miss back up by seven 20 seconds later.

Victor scored with 4:37 left to cut it to 61-55, but Lockhart scored and Harper hit a 3 to push the lead back to 11 just a minute later.

Slay tried to rally Tennessee late with eight points in a 1:30 span. His basket with 1:06 left cut it to 74-68, but Ole Miss was still in control.

"We believed we could come back and do it," Tennessee coach Jerry Green said.

The Vols didn't hang their heads after the game.

"I'm proud of our effort. We're looking forward to the NCAAs and trying to turn things around," said Vincent Yarbrough, who had nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Turnovers and poor free-throw shooting hurt the Vols. Ole Miss scored 20 points off 14 Tennessee turnovers, and the Volunteers were just 17-of-28 from the foul line.

The Rebels also outrebounded Tennessee 44-32.

After a 14-5 run gave Ole Miss a nine-point lead at halftime, the Rebels pushed it to 13 on Reed's layup with 17:10 to go.

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