Rebels Fall in NCAA Tournament to Xavier
March 19, 2015

BLOG: Journey Ends for Five Seniors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.
-- Ole Miss' NCAA Tournament run came to an end in the second round, as the 11th-seeded Rebels fell to the sixth-seeded Xavier Musketeers 76-57 on Thursday afternoon at Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Arena.

"It was a tough afternoon for us, but I'm really proud of our group for getting to the NCAA Tournament and advancing in the NCAA Tournament," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We certainly did not play well, and all the credit goes to Xavier. They were in complete control of tempo from the start, and we were never able to wrestle it away from them."

Junior guard Stefan Moody led Ole Miss (21-13) with 14 points and senior forward M.J. Rhett added 12 points, all in the second half, but the Rebels were unable to overcome a 33 percent shooting night and a 6-for-27 mark from 3-point range. For Xavier (22-13), the senior duo of Matt Stainbrook (20 points) and Dee Davis (17 points) paced the Musketeers, who shot 46 percent from the field and 10-for-23 from 3-point range.

"We just really struggled shooting the ball all night," Kennedy said. "They played that 1-3-1 zone about 10 percent of the time to this point of the season, and they stayed in the 1-3-1 for really the entire game, and it did its job. What's ironic is our 1-3-1 is the reason we're in the NCAA Tournament, and their 1-3-1 zone is the reason we're going home."

Ole Miss scored the game's first basket on a 3-pointer by junior guard Martavious Newby, but Xavier answered with 11 straight to take an 11-3 lead, and the Musketeers led the rest of the way. Ole Miss battled back to within 21-17 after a 7-0 run, capped by a deep 3-pointer by Moody with 9:36 left in the half, but Xavier came back with a 10-2 run of their own to push the lead back to double digits and took a 36-24 lead into halftime.

Looking for their second come-from-behind win in as many games in the NCAA Tournament, Rhett scored the first basket of the second half to pull Ole Miss to within 10, but Xavier had another answer, stretching their lead to 43-26 with 17:54 left.

"BYU had a larger lead than Xavier did, and I mean, we just didn't impose our will today," Rhett said. "Coach always talks about our three keys -- energy, toughness and focus -- and we didn't come with any of those today."

After a 9-2 run, Ole Miss had an opportunity to get to within single digits for the first time since the first half, but a turnover and a three-point play on the other end for Xavier gave the Musketeers a 60-46 lead with 7:33 left. The Rebels scored back-to-back baskets to get within 10 with 6:53 left, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

"We were trying to make a little run there at the end, before the wind came out of our sails," Kennedy said. "They were up 10, and Coleby had it in the short corner, and if we score there and get it to seven or eight, but we throw it away, and it leads to an and-one on the other end."

Ole Miss ends its season with a 21-13 record, the seventh 20-win season under Kennedy. The Rebels reached the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in program history and picked up the fifth NCAA Tournament win in program history, a thrilling 94-90 win over BYU in the first round on Tuesday in Dayton.


 

 

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