Ole Miss basketball
By Brad Greer
The horn never sounded. The clock never expired.
In one of the most bizarre endings to an Ole Miss basketball game in recent memory, the Rebels escaped Tad Smith Coliseum with a wild 91-88 win over Alabama Saturday in Southeastern Conference play.
After a Demetrius Jemison basket cut what was once a 16-point Rebel lead down to three with 10 seconds left in the game and an Ole Miss turnover, the Tide’s Senario Hillman threw up a wild three-pointer that was off the mark. The Reb’s Dwayne Curtis pulled down the rebound and was wrapped up by a Crimson Tide defender with 4.5 seconds remaining.
Assuming a whistle, all players stopped, and so did the clock with 2.5 seconds to play. However, there was no foul called. After a brief discussion at midcourt, the referees ended the game. Head official Doug Shows blamed, ‘a clock malfunction’ for the strange conclusion.
“By rule, we are required to go to the television monitor,” Shows said in a statement. “On the replay, we determined that time had expired because the clock had stopped at 2.5 seconds. We utilized all video and time devices we had available to us.”
This left Alabama head coach Mike Gottfried scratching his head.
“I’ve never seen a game end like that,” Gottfried said. “We got the steal, had a good shot, missed the shot with 4.5 seconds. It was an obvious foul on the play. Our guy wrapped Curtis up and everybody was waiting for a foul to be called and there wasn’t a whistle blown or anything.”
Despite shooting only 41 percent from the floor in the first half, Ole Miss found themselves in a 38-38 tie at halftime. The Rebels came out smoking in the final 20 minutes by scoring the first seven points in the second half to take a 45-38 lead on a pair of free throws by Curtis and a three-pointer by freshmen Chris Warren.
The lead grew to 64-52 on a tres by David Huertas with 10:40 remaining. Ole Miss took its largest lead of the game at 76-61 as Kenny Williams scored two of 13 points on a inside basket that brought the Rebel faithful to its feet with 5:32 left to play. Warren led the way for the Rebs with 25 points and eight assists while Curtis followed with 24 points.
With Ole Miss holding a commanding 83-69 lead with 1:54 left to play, Alabama began making their move. Jemison hit a pair of free throws and a layup to cut the lead to nine at 85-76 with under a minute left. Hillman then drained a three-pointer from the top of the key with 37 seconds to shrink the Ole Miss lead to 87-81.
Hillman then sank a pair of free throws to make the score 89-86 with 18 seconds remaining. Curtis added two free throws to give the Rebels a 91-86 lead before setting up the wild turn of events in the last ten seconds.
“I thought we played good offensively and aggressive defensively. We had a sense of urgency today. Shooting 75 percent in the second half, you would hope to outscore your opponent, but no one is going to quit in the league this time of year,” said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. “Alabama knocked down some tough shots there at the end made it a one possession ball game. We made some poor decisions in the open floor, but were able to close it out.”
Ole Miss (19-9; 5-9) will host Arkansas tonight in the final home game of the year. The game will be shown on ESPN at 8 p.m.