There are December games, then there are January and February games.
Then there is March.
Ole Miss took on South Carolina on the second day of the SEC tournament and it was a March Madness type of basketball game. Well, at least the ending was. It was a sloppy game until the last minute when things really became interesting.
The Rebels were down two with less than a minute left in the game. Their first possession Stefan Moody missed a bad three point shot, an intentional foul gives the Gamecocks two shots which they missed.
Ole Miss failed to take advantage and missed another bad shot, Carolina went to the line and made one of two free throws to put them up three.
Then IT happened.
Moody drove down the court, got double teamed and dished the ball to Jarvis Summers in the corner. Summers squared up and hit the three and gets fouled. He steps up to the line, knocks down the free throw and give Ole Miss a one point lead with 3.3 seconds left in the game.
Then IT part two happened.
Tyrone Johnson shoots a three point prayer, the only problem was that LaDarius “Snoop” White hooked his arm on the shot and a foul was called. Johnson stepped up to the line and hit all three of his free throws to put South Carolina up two with .7 seconds left in the game. Moody did not even get the last second shot off. Final score was a 60-58 South Carolina victory.
“Still in a little bit of shock,” said Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy in the post game press conference. “We were just trying to get them to make a hard shot in the last possession and unfortunately it did not go the way we hoped.”
“I just wanted to help my team in any way,” said Snoop White with tears in his eyes. “I just wanted win a couple games in this tournament so we could definitely be in the NCAA tournament.”
The Rebels had a poor shooting night. They made 16 of their 53 shots, and only made seven of their 20 three point shots. They also played sloppy and committed 21 turnovers in the game, 15 in the first half. Snoop White led the Rebels with 17 points, which was a game high. He was the only Rebel to shoot at least four shots and make over 30 percent of them.
“We were a staggering 15 or 16 and two when we hit the 40 percent mark, now 40 percent would be last in every power 5 league,” said Kennedy. “We would still be last but if we could get to 40 percent we were 15 and two, well tonight we shoot 30 percent from the field.”
The Rebels went from a NCAA tournament lock to a bubble team now. ESPN bracketologist has Ole Miss as an eleven seed. They are in but not they need a little help to be a lock.
“The last time that I saw an updated bracket by the guy on the worldwide leader there were six or seven or eight teams behind us,” said Kennedy. “I have no idea what those teams have done today, we have now taken destiny out of our own hands.”
The six teams Kennedy spoke of are Oklahoma State, Purdue, BYU, Texas, Temple, and Indiana. These six teams all need to lose to increase Ole Miss chances of getting in the tournament. Some already have, BYU lost in their conference championship, Texas lost to Iowa State today and Oklahoma State got blown out. Indiana still has to play #8 Maryland, Temple plays Memphis, and Purdue has to play Penn State. So far things look good for the Rebels. But things are no longer in their hands and they will play close attention to key games over the next few days.
“Makes me sick to my stomach,” said South Carolina Coach Frank Martin about the possibility of Ole Miss not making the tournament. “Ole Miss better be in that tournament and better be a good seed.”
Ole Miss now waits for their fate from the NCAA selection committee. The NCAA Selection Show will be on Sunday, March 15th at 5pm central. The SEC tournament will continue tomorrow at Noon and will be broadcast on the SEC network.