Published on February 15th, 2015 | by Taylor Rayburn0
Toe to Toe: Rebels come up short in SEC ‘Heavyweight’ battle
Many would find it hard to disagree: Ole Miss and Arkansas are the two best teams in this league outside of Kentucky.
These two teams squared off Saturday night, with the Rebels coming up short in a 71-70 loss to No. 24 Arkansas.
“It was a high-level game,” Andy Kennedy said. “ When you get to February basketball, it’s played like this…We made the shot Thursday night (against Florida) in a highly contested game. We missed the shot tonight, and Arkansas made the play. We didn’t lose the game. Arkansas won it.”
The loss dropped Ole Miss to 17-8 (8-4) and snapped a six game winning streak.
Razorbacks head skipper Mike Anderson differed little from Kennedy’s assessment.
“It had the makings of a NCAA tournament, that kind of two teams really going after each other,” Anderson said. “Like heavyweights, and we had the last possession.”
The game was a tough gritty battle one would expect when watching a Grizzlies game, not SEC basketball. Junior Stefan Moody stood out as a pure scrapper, diving for loose balls, fighting men a foot taller than him for rebounds. Moody had six rebounds and finished with a team high 16 points.
Ole Miss as a team rebounded exceptionally well, grabbing 45 rebounds to Arkansas’ 31. Shooting percentage was the downfall in this game. Ole Miss shot 38 percent from the floor as a team compared to Arkansas’ 48 percent.
“The rebounding got lopsided there in the second half,” Anderson said. “But when we needed to going down the stretch it just seemed we got four or five stops.”
Like all games between two great teams, this game down to the last second. Ole Miss had fought tooth and nail to take a one point lead as Arkansas had the ball with 27 seconds left.
Arkansas’ Manuale Watkins, who entered the game solely because starter Anton Beard had fouled out a minute earlier, hit a floater with six seconds remaining to put Arkansas up one. Ole Miss quickly in-bounded the ball hoping to recreate the magic from Thursday night, when Moody hit a three with 2.6 seconds left to win the game. Senior Jarvis Summers drove the lane and put up a floater, but the magic had run out as the buzzer sounded and the ball fell to the floor.
“You know we made the shot Thursday night, we missed the shot tonight and Arkansas made the play,” Kennedy said. “I told our team, I don’t think we lost the game, I think Arkansas won it.”
The Rebels came into the Saturday ranked 36 in the RPI. A win would all but of guaranteed a tournament bid. All is not lost, this was a game that if you win, you gain the world and if you lose, you don’t lose much. This team blew out Arkansas in January. They also beat Florida in the O-Dome. Stopped a red hot Texas A&M team. They took Kentucky to overtime.
The Rebels will attempt rebound against arch-rival Mississippi State on Thursday in Starkville. The game is set for 8 PM on ESPN2.
Box Score and Stats can be found here: Ole Miss vs. Arkansas