Rebel Defense Shuts Down Bulldogs
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) With the SEC Western Division lead and an NCAA Tournament berth at stake, Ole Miss picked the right time for what head coach Andy Kennedy called, “our best defensive half of the season.”

The Rebels (18-9, 7-6), limiting Georgia to season-lows in points and shooting percentage, defeated the Bulldogs 67-49. Clarence Sanders scored 21 points as Ole Miss put four players in double figures.

The win kept Ole Miss tied for the division lead with Mississippi State, who defeated Vanderbilt Wednesday. The Rebels have won five of their last six starts and improved to 14-1 at home with the win.

Dwayne Curtis scored 14 points, Bam Doyne had 12 and Jermey Parnell had 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Rebels. Parnell, who blocked two shots and altered three other attempts, helped spark the defensive surge.

“Parnell was huge for us tonight and gave us great energy on both ends of the floor,” said Kennedy, as the Rebels limited Georgia to 19-of-58 from the field. “Any time you hold Georgia to 19 percent from the field in a half, that’s doing something right.”

The Bulldogs (16-10, 7-6) were only 1-of-14 from the field to open the second half as Ole Miss pulled away after building a 39-32 halftime lead. Georgia finished 5-of-26 from the field, 19 percent, in the second half.

Georgia, led by Takais Brown and Sundiata Gaines with 14 and 11 points, respectively, had a 28-27 advantage with 4:06 left in the first half. The Bulldogs never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

“The difference was they beat us up, pushed us around and had their way with us,” Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. “That made a difference on how we finished high percentage plays around the basket.”

Ole Miss built its biggest lead, 65-44 with 3:08 left, on a slam by Curtis. The Rebels finished 25-of-53, 47 percent, from the field that including 6-of-9 from three-point range.

The Bulldogs actually held the edge on the boards, 37-35, but turned the ball over 15 times and did not shoot well enough to compensate. Ole Miss had only 11 turnovers, many coming after the issue had already been decided.

“They’re all big games at this stage of the season and we’re fighting for our postseason lives,” Kennedy said. “But every game is an opportunity and you’ve got to take care of your home court. We did that tonight.”

The Rebels, bidding for their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2001, face consecutive road games at South Carolina and Alabama, before finishing at home with Auburn.

Mississippi State has consecutive road games at Georgia and Arkansas before closing at home against Alabama.

Preseason division favorite Alabama remains one game behind the co-leaders and hosts Auburn and Ole Miss before finishing the season at Mississippi State.

“You’ve got to win at home, but you’re really going to need to get at least one on the road,” Kennedy said. “But regardless of the scenario, the bottom line is win.”

 


 

 

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