FRIDAY FLASHBACK: Ole Miss - MSU 2001
FRIDAY FLASHBACK rewinds to some of the memorable Ole Miss games from the all-time series with Saturday's opponent. Ole Miss and Mississippi State own the SEC's most-played rivalry in basketball, and anything can happen when the in-state foes tip off on the hardcourt. The 2001 matchup in Oxford featured a gritty, defensive effort by both teams, with Ole Miss coming out on top 51-48 on its way to the SEC West title and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. The following is the Clarion-Ledger's account of the events of Feb. 14, 2001.
Harrison, Rebels slip past Bulldogs
By Robert Falkoff
OXFORD - On Valentine's Day, Jason Harrison stuck an arrow in Mississippi State's heart.
The diminutive Ole Miss point guard stood tall at crunch time, scoring five points in the final 2:12 to lift the No. 16 Rebels to a 51-48 victory over the stubborn Bulldogs Wednesday night before 8,630 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
On a night when defense dominated, a nip-and-tuck game came down to who could make the big shots.
Enter Harrison. With Ole Miss down 46-44, Harrison drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing at the 2:12 mark. Quentin Smith tied it with a free throw, but Harrison then drove the middle and arched the ball over the big guys for what proved to be the winning points at the 1:09 mark.
"The played the pass," Harrison said. "When I saw that, I laid the ball up."
Harrison's late offense brought a huge sigh of relief. He came in shooting .906 from the foul line in league play, which was No. 1 in the SEC. But he missed two with 2:59 remaining and Ole Miss up one.
"I was very upset with myself," Harrison said. "I had to make up for that."
On a night when the humid weather resulted in a slippery floor, the last slip was particularly costly for Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs had the ball down 49-48 with 5.7 seconds left. But Antonio Jackson slipped while trying to bring the ball up and David Sanders picked up the loose ball and was fouled. Sanders hit two free throws and Tang Hamilton then missed a potential tying trey from just inside the midcourt line.
Ole Miss, 20-4 overall, 8-3 SEC, has won five in a row heading off to a two-game Eastern Division road swing through South Carolina and Florida.
"This gets us in the (NCAA) Tournament, but we don't want to just be in," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said. "We feel like we've put ourselves in position to win the whole thing (the SEC title)."
Mississippi State, 12-10 overall, 3-8 SEC, didn't trail until the 4:58 mark. Marckell Patterson scored 15 points, and the Bulldogs pounded away for a 40-28 rebounding advantage.
"We'll take a win however we can take it," said Ole Miss center Rahim Lockhart, who scored 15 points and went over 1,000 for his career.
"Coach told us this would be a 40-minute game. We just had to hang in there and keep playing hard."
The Rebels, who had turned in one of their best offensive showings last Saturday against Tennessee, struggled to find the groove.
Ole Miss hit only 2 of 16 shots from 3-point range, but one of those was Harrison's key shot down the stretch.
"Mississippi State seems to play their best against us," Ole Miss forward Jason Holmes said. "Both teams really competed, and it was a battle right to the end. We just were able to make a few more plays."
The Rebels broke a four-game losing streak against the Bulldogs.
"I give State credit," Barnes said. "We struggled all night because of their tough play. I felt like we were pressing all the way through."
Both clubs struggled at the foul line, with Ole Miss going 7-of-17 and State shooting 10-of-21.
"We shot 20 more times from the floor than they did, but this is a strange game," Barnes said. "It always is when we play State in any sport. Anything is possible."
Although the jumpers weren't falling, Ole Miss continued its recent pattern of solid ball-handling.
Ole Miss had just five turnovers, while the Bulldogs committed 19.
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