Last night was a classic Ole Miss game of “what should have been”. The Rebels got out to a 10-point first half lead, only to allow an Indiana State 30-9 run to close the half.
Then, they valiantly fought back and had the ball with under a minute left in a tie game, only to hoist up a low-percentage attempt, giving the ball back. Ole Miss came up with a steal and chucked it down court to a wide open Murphy Holloway who just had to lay in a runner, his bread-and-butter, instead he dunks it. The only problem is, he dunked it after time ran out, even worse, he traveled and gave the ball back with 0.3 seconds left.
In overtime, it appeared to be poor shot attempt after poor shot attempt, surviving on Henderson. Ole Miss almost closed a seemingly impossible gap with back-to-back steals, with a desperation shot from half court going over the backboard, losing 87-85.
While it is no excuse, Andy Kennedy’s squad did not get any help from the men in stripes. ISU was called for just 10 fouls on the night, Ole Miss had 19. ISU shot 24 free throws (including 15 from point guard Jake Odum), Ole Miss shot just 13.
What is most surprising is that Holloway, who typically gets to the line often due to his bruiser mentality, did not get to the line once. Holloway seemed to be agitated often by the lack of calls going his way, especially since the referees called 5 fouls on him. He kept his cool however, unlike Henderson, who had enough after he was bumped to the ground on a three-point attempt and was called for a technical.
Henderson had his best game of the year last night as he tied his season-high in points with 27. Holloway and Reginald Buckner each landed double-doubles on the night. Holloway scored 16 points and grabbed 13 boards before fouling out. Buckner added 17 points on 8-10 shooting, to go along with his 10 rebounds.
Nick Williams hit a big three as time was running down in regulation and finished with 7 points. Jarvis Summers also had 7 points, but was 1-7 from the field with just 3 assists after sitting down with 2 quick fouls.
All five Indiana State starters finished in double-figures, led by Manny Arop who scored a season-high 27 points. Neither bench produced much as Ole Miss beat ISU in bench scoring 11-10. Ole Miss forced just 13 turnovers, a season-low, but only surrendered 7 turnovers, also a season-low. It was a very good sign to see four less turnovers than assists. It was the poor shooting and free throw disparity that killed the Rebels in this one.
It was a game of what could have been, but none of that matters now. What matters now is another huge RPI hit for Ole Miss. This marks the second loss for the Rebels this season against a team who appears to be a longshot for the Big Dance. Ole Miss also loses out on the possibility of playing San Diego State or Arizona, easily the biggest RPI opportunities in the Rebel out-of-conference.
Indiana State improved to 6-3 with the win and will play #18 San Diego State at approximately noon local time.
Ole Miss fell to 8-2 on the season, and will face off against San Francisco in the consolation bracket at 2 p.m. CT, 10 a.m. local.