It’s a shame that the “Music City Miracle” was already taken.
With 8:39 left on the game cloce, the Rebels looked to be dead in the water. Down 67-54 and trying to shoot their way back in the game, there appeared to be no purpose, no organization, and no hope for Rebel fans. Out of the blue, a changing of the guard spurted Ole Miss’s best run of the season. A 19-5 run put the Rebels ahead by a point with just over two minutes left.
After a few exchanged buckets, it was gut-check time for both teams. Tied at 75, Vanderbilt had what could’ve been the final possession of the ball game, dribbling the clock down under ten before the ailing Kedren Johnson drove the lane and kicked it to Kevin Bright in the corner, a hot bed for the Commodores all night. With a hand in his face, Bright knocked it down with just over three seconds to play.
Ole Miss inbounded the ball then kicked it to the one guy that Vanderbilt could not let beat them, Marshall Henderson. A catch and shoot from the nomansland beyond “NBA range”, the ball made a loud thud on the inside of the back of the rim. He nailed it and we were going to overtime.
Regulation was hotly contested with lots of emotion and traded baskets, that all changed in the overtime when it was all Rebels. Vanderbilt was outscored 11-1 in the extra period, ending a futile end to the game punctuated by a Henderson three-point-play. In the final 13:39 of the game, Vandy was held to 3-14 from the field, 3-9 from the line, while committing five of their ten turnovers. Ole Miss closed the game on a 35-12 run, giving them an 89-79 victory in overtime.
Never has a win over a 6-8 basketball team felt as sweet as it did Tuesday night. On Saturday, Ole Miss proved to themselves and the world that they can hang with an elite basketball team when they manhandled No.10 Missouri. On Tuesday, they proved that they can look adversity in the eye and not just survive, but thrive.
Henderson had a game-high 26 points in his 41 minutes of play. Murphy Holloway, who was a point of focus for the Vandy defense all night, still managed to record 12 points and 8 rebounds. Reginald Buckner rebounded from his scoreless outing against Mizzou to score 14 points to go along with his 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Jarvis Summers also scored in double-figures for Ole Miss, finishing with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Anthony Perez played his best basketball game this season, grabbing a pair of rebounds, committing zero turnovers, and knocking down a big three-pointer late in the game. Snoop White scored 9 points for the Rebs, Nick Williams added 6, and Derrick Millinghaus had 4.
Despite not winning the turnover battle, ending in a 10-10 tie, it was a great sign to see Ole Miss commit just ten in a game. Keeping their players on the court by limiting their fouls to 16 was another crucial statistic for the Rebels.
Vanderbilt was lights out from deep in the first half, going 12-20 from deep. A team that scored 33 in their last outing was able to muster 41 in the first half alone. They finished the game 17-40, making just one fewer three-point field goal than they had two-point field goals attempted.
The cold shooting in the second half could be better classified as simply coming down to Earth. It was not the lack of splashes from three that doomed the Dores though. It was led by the atrocious shooting from the charity stripe, a place where Kevin Stallings teams typically perform well. Last night, they were just 10-23.
Johnson led all Commodore scorers with 19 points. He also dished out 8 of the team’s 20 assists on the night. Bright, who hit the late go-ahead three, finished with 12 points. Dai-Jon Parker filled the stat sheet with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Sheldon Jeter had a quiet 13 points on 2-6 shooting from long-range. Shelby Moats led the team in rebounds with 8.
Vanderbilt joins in-state rival Tennessee as the only teams at 0-3 in conference play. That will change tonight as either South Carolina or LSU will join them with Georgia as another likely possibility. The Commodores fell to a league-worst 6-9 overall record and will return to play on Saturday when they travel east to Columbia to face the Gamecocks (10-5, 0-2) at 1:30 p.m. local time.
The Rebels improved to 14-2 and 3-0 in the SEC, good for sole possession of first place in the league. The only 3-0 team in the conference, Ole Miss has beaten all three opponents by double-digits, averaging a winning margin of 14.3 ppg. The Rebels return home to host Arkansas (10-5, 1-1) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. CT.