FRIDAY FLASHBACK: Ole Miss - Arkansas 1998
FRIDAY FLASHBACK rewinds to some of the memorable Ole Miss games from the all-time series with this weekend's opponent. The Ole Miss-Arkansas series took on new meaning during the 90s, first with the Razorbacks entry into the Southeastern Conference in 1992, and then later in the decade as the Rebels experienced an influx of players from the Natural State. In 1998, Ole Miss and Arkansas ranked among the nation's best, and a late-season battle in Oxford helped determine the SEC Western Division crown, which the Rebels later earned outright for the second straight year. The following is the Commercial Appeal's account of the events of Feb. 25, 1998.
Rebs rip Arkansas, gain a tie
By Bobby Hall
OXFORD, Miss. - Defending champion Ole Miss forced a tie for first place in the Western Conference with an 81-65 basketball victory over Arkansas before 8,618 Wednesday at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The 13th-ranked Rebels (20-5, 11-4), relying on dominating boardwork, fought back from a 10-point deficit in the first half to grab their sixth consecutive victory and pull even with the 12th-ranked Razorbacks (22-6, 11-4).
Rebels senior Ansu Sesay gave an All-American performance with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Forward Derek Hood led Arkansas with 16 points and 10 boards.
Sesay was in double-figure scoring for the 49th straight game. The 20-victory season for Ole Miss was only the fourth in 60 years, but the second straight under coach Rob Evans.
The title chase in the West now can't be determined until Saturday's final regular-season games when Ole Miss plays host to Auburn and Arkansas visits Alabama.
If both the Rebels and Hogs win Saturday, or if both lose, they would be division co-champions, and Arkansas would get the No. 1 seed from the West for next week's SEC Tournament in Atlanta because of a better record against Western Division teams.
If either of the co-leaders wins Saturday and the other loses, the winner would be the division champ and get the No. 1 seed. Both teams are assured of a first-round bye in the tournament, which starts next Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
Arkansas used a 22-13 run to blow open a 10-point lead - 35-25 - with 5:32 left in the first half. Forward Sunday Adebayo completed the run with a field goal and free throw.
But just when it appeared the Hogs had taken control, the Rebels rushed back with an 11-0 explosion, and Arkansas didn't score for more than four minutes.
A three-point shot from deep on the right wing by guard Joezon Darby gave Ole Miss a 36-35 lead with 1:34 left. The Rebels led at halftime, 38-37, despite 51.9 percent shooting by the Hogs and only 31.6 by Ole Miss.
Ole Miss relied on a dominating performance on the boards in the first half, grabbing 30 rebounds to Arkansas's 17. The Rebels controlled the offensive glass, 18-4, and led in second-chance points, 12-2.
Sesay led all scorers and rebounders in the first half with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Ole Miss continued its takeover at the start of the second half, opening with a 9-2 run that power forward Anthony Boone ignited with two baskets off the low post. The Rebels were on top, 54-43, with 14:50 left following a layup by guard Keith Carter off a quick pass through the heart of the Hog defense from Sesay.
It was the 19th consecutive homecourt victory for the Rebels and 34th win in the last 35 games at the Tad Pad.
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