Late three lifts Mississippi over Kentucky

Freshman surge not enough in second half

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 2, 2011 

OXFORD, Miss. — Home team plays more aggressively. Raucous crowd gets plenty to cheer about. Kentucky loses.

It looked like the same old-same old Road to Oblivion movie for UK Tuesday night at Mississippi. Then Kentucky almost flipped the script.

The Cats finished strong. Alas, not quite strong enough.

Ole Miss's leading scorer, Chris Warren, hit a three-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to give the Rebels a 71-69 victory.

Warren, who led the Rebels with 22 points, used a screen from Reginald Buckner to get free from UK's best perimeter defender, DeAndre Liggins. Then he rattled in a long three-pointer over Terrence Jones.

"It was actually designed for me to drive by the hedger, Jones," Warrren said. "But he played off and didn't let me go by. He gave me a little crease, and I had a rhythm jumper."

UK Coach John Calipari lamented another example of his team's passivity away from Rupp Arena. "It's what we are," he said of the Kiddie Cats.

Calipari also bemoaned how UK's veterans failed to answer his call to lead the freshman-oriented Cats on the road. When told that freshmen scored every one of Kentucky's 34 points in the second half, Calipari said with a tone of resignation, "They must be my best players."

But Calipari had no problem with how Jones contested Warren's game-winner.

"We told him, don't try to block it," the UK coach said. "Because the kid (Warren) will ball fake and get you to foul. He's a 95 percent foul shooter (actually, 93.9 percent). If he's going to make a tough shot, let him make it over us."

Ole Miss, which won for the first time in four home Southeastern Conference games, wanted Warren to take the shot.

"As a coach, you have a lot of things going through your head, and your assistants have 17 different suggestions," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "But with 10 seconds to play, you don't want to get too complicated. Just try to give him an angle and a clean look at the basket."

Jones hit two free throws with 1:21 left to cap a Kentucky rally from seven down and barely three minutes remaining.

Jones, who led UK with 22 points, scored eight of the Cats' final 10 points.

After Warren's shot, No. 10 UK got a chance to win it. But Doron Lamb's throw from between the circles on the Cats' end of the floor fell short and to the left of the basket.

Kentucky (16-5, 4-3 SEC) fell to 1-3 on the road in league play.

Ole Miss, which hadn't beat a top-10 team since defeating No. 6 Alabama in 2002, improved to 14-8 overall and 2-5 in the SEC.

Lamb finished with 20 points. Brandon Knight added 15.

A layup by Eloy Vargas — only his second basket in SEC play — gave Kentucky a 35-34 halftime lead. With UK getting pushed around again, Calipari was happy to have any lead. "Up one, and how in the world are we up one?" he said.

Foul trouble necessitated extra contributors for the Cats. When Knight picked up his second foul with 5:59 left in the first, he became the third UK player to go to the bench because of foul trouble. Earlier, Josh Harrellson and Liggins left the game after picking up their second fouls.

Ole Miss had its own foul trouble, which made a one-point halftime deficit almost a triumph. Warrren, who came into the game leading the Rebels in scoring, assists, three-pointers and free-throw shooting, picked up his second foul with 9:32 left.

Kentucky led 21-15, slightly less than the biggest first-half advantage: 17-10.

Turnovers, usually no problem for Kentucky, hurt in the first half. The Cats committed 10, half of which belonged to Knight, and finished with a season-high 18.

Back-to-back turnovers enabled Ole Miss to take a 48-43 lead, its largest margin to that point, with 14:21 left.

Darius Miller stepped over the line trying to inbound the ball. Ole Miss got a three-pointer from Warren.

Then Harrellson lost the ball starting a move from the top of the key. When Buckner drove to a dunk, Calipari called timeout with 14:20 left. At that point, UK had 13 turnovers. The Cats went into the game averaging 11.2 turnovers in SEC play.

The Ole Miss lead reached its zenith at 54-43 when Buckner hit a shot from the lane with 11:58 left.

A minute later, with the lead still at 11, Kentucky made its move. Knight scored 10 straight points. His three-pointer from the top of the key reduced UK's deficit to three, 56-53.

Ole Miss called time with 9:18 left. Sixteen seconds later, Warren hit a three-pointer over Knight.

Momentum swung heavily toward Ole Miss with less than seven minutes to go. Trailing 61-55, Knight rose for an apparent dunk. But Buckner blocked the attempt. As the crowd roared, Zach Graham sped to a fast-break layup while being fouled. The three-point play put the Rebels ahead 64-55 with 6:31 left. Although Kentucky rallied, Calipari would have have embraced a victory this night.

"If we win this game, that is a total steal," he said. "We had no business winning this game. None."

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