100 YEARS FLASHBACK: Ole Miss - Mississippi State 1981
As part of this season's celebration of the First 100 years of Ole Miss Basketball, OleMissSports.com will be featuring stories and insider content throughout the year that look back on some of the great moments, teams and players of the past.
The 1980-81 season saw the Rebels reach new heights, and among the key games was an overtime battle on the road against Mississippi State. The following is the Clarion-Ledger account of January 24, 1981.
Rebels Beat State In Overtime
By Rick Cleveland
STARKVILLE The Ole Miss Rebels, who nearly committed basketball suicide by missing crucial free throws near the end of regulation, survived and flourished by hitting 11 of 14 freebies in overtime of a 59-52 victory over Mississippi State here Saturday night.
The Rebels, who led by as many as 13 points in the first half and by as many as 10 with 3:24 left in regulation, missed four straight times on the front end of one-and-one free throw situations during the final three minutes, thus allowing the scrappy Bulldogs back into the contest.
First Carlos Clark, then Cecil Dowell, then Chris Barrett and finally Elston Turner missed on one-and-one opportunities. Each time, State retaliated with a basket until Kalpatrick Wells’ tap-in with a minute to go tied the score at 42.
State quickly fouled Barrett, who went back to the line with 55 seconds to go, and, with 7,820 people creating a general pandemonium, swished two free shots to give Ole Miss the lead again.
But Jeff Malone, who scored 18 of State’s 22 second half points hitting time after time in clutch situations, fired in a 12-footer to tie the score at 44 with 45 seconds left in the game.
Ole Miss then held the ball for one last shot, calling timeout with 17 seconds. Then, unaccountably, the Rebels ran off the last 17 seconds without getting off a shot.
“We just didn’t react well,” said Ole Miss coach Bob Weltlich. “We were supposed to start the play with 12 seconds left but we never got into it.
“We opened the door for them by missing the front end of so many one-and-ones,” Weltlich said, “but then we sucked it up and did what we had to do to win.”
That included taking a 46-44 lead right off the bat in overtime on a breakaway layup by Dowell. Terry Lewis countered for State by penetrating the Ole Miss defense for a short band shot with 3:35 to go.
Then Ole Miss scored perhaps the most crucial bucket of the game, holding the ball for nearly 2 minutes before Clark broke free to hit a layup to give the Rebels a lead they never relinquished.
Another key basket came with 45 seconds left and the Rebels clinging to a 50-49 lead. With State waiting for a poor free throw shooter to get the ball to foul, Tuohy spotted Turner loose under the goal and quickly whipped in a pass for another layup.
Tuohy, who hit six of six free throws in overtime, hit four straight during the final seconds to help preserve the lead.
“We could have lost the last two games by missing free throws that,” said Weltlich’s Rebels, who had survived poor free throw shooting to stun Vanderbilt 46-44 on Wednesday night. As it is, the Rebels pulled even at 8-8 overall and bettered their Southeastern Conference record to 3-5.
State dropped to 2-6 in the league and 7-9 overall, despite Malone’s near-incredible second half effort. Malone finished with 26 points, including 10 of 11 from the foul line and also led all rebounders with nine.
“We go no, I repeat, no breaks at all,” said State coach Jim Hatfield. “I’m not trying to take anything away from Ole Miss at all, but the officiating was very poor.”
Ole Miss, which was led by Turner with 19 points and Clark with 16, took command early by working the ball for easy shots against State’s man-to-man defense.
The Rebels hit five of their first six shots to take a 10-2 lead and stretched that to 25-12 with 6:57 left by hitting 12 of their first 14 tried. When State tried to zone Ole Miss, Weltlich simply had his guards hold the ball outside and bring the Bulldogs out.
Nevertheless, Sate fought back to close the Ole Miss lead to 28-22 on a layup by freshman Michael Green at the first half buzzer.
State continued to chip away as the second half began, cutting the Ole Miss advantage to 30-27. The Rebels, however, pulled away again on a pair of 15-footers by Clark and two free throws by Dowell that made it 42-32 with 3:24 remaining.That set the stage for all the Rebels’ missed free shots and Malone’s all-for-nought heroics, and the ensuing overtime period.
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