100 YEARS FLASHBACK: Ole Miss - Arkansas 1995
As part of this season's celebration of the First 100 years of Ole Miss Basketball, OleMissSports.com will be featuring stories and exclusive content throughout the year that look back on some of the great moments, teams and players of the past. The celebration will culminate with the public introduction of the All-Century Team at Saturday's Georgia game.
The amazing run of success of Rob Evans' Rebel squads began in 1996-97. However, Evans' earlier teams laid that foundation and showed glimpses of what was to come. One of those moments was courtesy of the 1995 club, which featured freshmen Ansu Sesay and Anthony Boone, and showed no fear against the high-profile, defending national champions. The following is the Commercial Appeal's account of January 4, 1995.
Ole Miss Shocks No. 3 Arkansas
By Ron Higgins
OXFORD, Miss. No. 3 and defending national basketball champion Arkansas won the Rainbow Classic last week in Honolulu with hard-fought wins over possible NCAA Tournament teams Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Iowa.
But Wednesday in a Southeastern Conference opener, the Razorbacks found no pot of gold at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Everything that glittered belonged to upstart Ole Miss. The Rebels, six-point losers to lowly McNeese State Saturday, upset the Hogs, 76-71, before 7,263 witnesses who probably still don’t believe what they saw.
Only in the perspective of national rankings was the win by the Rebels (4-5, 1-0) an upset.
For almost the 40 full minutes, Ole Miss outplayed the two-time defending SEC champion Razorbacks (11-2, 0-1).
The Rebels finished the job they started in their last meeting last Feb. 19 in The Pyramid when Arkansas won, 90-73, after Ole Miss faded the final five minutes with key starters fouling out.
“Maybe they (Arkansas) thought they could come in here, not give it their all and win,” said Ole Miss junior forward John Jackson, who scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. “Nobody can come into our barn and not give 100 percent because we are going to give 100 percent.”
Even though Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson thought his team was leg weary from the trip to Hawaii “That’s the only thing I can think of to explain our sluggish play,” he said and though the Razorbacks were without starting guard Clint McDaniel because of turn toe, the Hogs’ players had no excuses.
How could they? Ole Miss out-rebounded Arkansas an astounding 52-40 including 24 offensive rebounds.
While the Rebels shot 40.3 percent, they limited the Hogs to 39.4 percent. The turnovers, always important against the helter-skelter defense of the Razorbacks, were about even with Ole Miss having 17 miscues to Arkansas’s 16. Against McNeese, the Rebels had a season-high 32 turnovers.
“It wasn’t the trip to Hawaii you can’t blame it on travel,” said Arkansas forward Scotty Thurman, one of three Hogs with 13 points. “We came out, never stepped it up and Ole Miss played harder than we did. Much harder.”
After what was one of the biggest wins in Ole Miss history, third-year coach Rob Evans was proud, but focused on the fact this was just the start of SEC play.
“I knew we were better than what we showed against McNeese,” Evans said. “For the last three days in practice, we worked on protecting the ball, being patient on offense and attacking the boards.”
Perhaps the two key elements to the Rebels’ victory besides sheer effort and rebounding was ball movement and attacking Arkansas when the Hogs tried trapping defenses.
Ole Miss led, 36-33, at the half, extended the margin to 42-33 with 18:15 left, saw Arkansas rally to twice take the lead before the Rebels edged ahead for good, 61-60, on Cedric Brim’s steal and driving layup with 4:52 left.
Three times in the final four minutes, the Hogs cut the Ole Miss lead to a point and trailed only 73-71 with 33 seconds left on guard Corey Beck’s three-point jumper.
But the Rebels refused to fold. Spreading the court, they attacked the Hogs’ trapping defense and guard Devin Johnson converted a three-point play that clinched the win.
“When they trapped, we went to the basket,” said Brim, who had just two turnovers in 35 minutes of facing Arkansas pressure. “We kept attacking.”
Ole Miss, showing an early case of nerves, managed to overcome 1-of-9 shooting and a barrage of turnovers in the game’s opening five minutes.
Even though Arkansas led twice by six points, the Hogs’ overeagerness to break open the game led to four straight scoreless trips when the Razorbacks could have extended to a 20-14 lead with 8:56 left in the half.
Instead, Ole Miss seized control. While the Rebels’ offense was anything but smooth, they simply outworked the Razorbacks on the backboards.
By halftime, Ole Miss had 20 offensive rebounds against the dead-on-arrival Hogs.
An example of the Rebels’ sheer hustle 6-4 swingman Fred Johnigan had 14 points and 14 rebounds. That’s more rebounds than Arkansas All-American Corliss Williamson, who had 13 points and eight rebounds.
“They all crashed the boards hard,” said Williamson, who was 5-of-14 from the field with four turnovers. “With the big men we have, we didn’t do what we should have to keep them off the boards. We never met the challenge.”
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