Jan. 26, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. — Coming off an emotional overtime win over intrastate rival Mississippi State on Thursday, Ole Miss had No. 14/No. 15 LSU on the ropes for much of the game.
The Rebels led 36-33 at halftime, and the game was tied 52-52 at the under-eight minute media timeout, but the Tigers scored five straight points to take a 57-52 lead and made the plays down the stretch to close out a 66-56 win on Sunday.
“You had kids play 40-45 minutes, and they came back out and you couldn’t tell the difference in how they played tonight from how they played on Thursday,” head coach Matt Insell said. “They worked every possession until that last possession, and we’re right there. We’re going to keep fighting. I don’t know when we we’re going to break through, but we’ll break through and start winning those close ones.
“This loss right here is not going to make us go back and change our process. We’re right there two minutes ago. How can we make that lay-up? How can we get that rebound? How can we get that stop when the ball is rolling around on the floor? We’ll go back and watch that on tape and we’ll keep watching that because we will grow from this.”
After LSU went ahead by five with 7:06 left, Ole Miss answered with four straight from the free-throw line and had open looks to tie and go ahead, but the shots didn’t fall. After shooting 46.7 percent (14-of-30) from the field in the first half, Ole Miss shot just 22.6 percent (7-of-31) in the second half.
“We didn’t make the open looks that we usually make,” said Diara Moore, who led the team with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting. “We missed lay-ups. (Shequila Joseph) and Gracie (Frizzell) had great looks from three, and V (Valencia) McFarland did too, but we just didn’t connect on them, but we will next time.
“We got the shots we wanted; it just wasn’t our night tonight making them,” Insell added. “It was like there was a lid on it. It’s not going to stop us from doing the same thing Thursday. We will go get those same looks on Thursday, and we’ll probably make them on Thursday.”
It was the third time that Ole Miss pushed a ranked opponent this season, having lost to No. 9 Baylor, 87-80, and No. 24/No. 25 Vanderbilt, 80-74. The Rebels move to 10-11 overall and 1-6 in Southeastern Conference play, with four losses by 10 points or less.
“I told the team to not worry about being 1-6; worry about being 1-1 in this 11-game season. Before the Mississippi State game, I told them we have 11 games left. We were 1-0 after the Mississippi State game. We lost today. Now, we’re 1-1. My challenge to them is we got to have a winning record after these 11, and so we have nine left. If we have a winning record after these 11, then we have a chance to play in the postseason with the NIT, and we’re going to keep fighting every day to have a winning record.
“We’re watching a lot of film and we’re working really hard to figure out how we make that next play, and these kids are hurting in there. They wanted this one, and they played hard enough to get it. I’m proud of them.”
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller