Whether at the old arena or the new, Ole Miss has Kentucky’s number in Oxford.
The Rebels snapped a four-game losing streak and earned their first victory at the Pavilion in a big way, 73-65 over ninth-ranked Kentucky on Thursday night.
Forward Shequila Joseph, who came into the game with just 11 made three-pointers all season, had five makes in the victory and finished with a career-high tying 21 points in the win, the Rebs’ second straight over the Cats in Oxford.
The Rebels, who made 10 of 26 three-pointers in the victory, opened the game with a pair and then opened the second half with another pair, that helped set the tone.
“They came out swinging and we did not handle it well,” Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Give them all the credit. They played great, made a lot of three pointers and did a great job. Really, really great job by Ole Miss. Gotta give them all the credit.”
The Cats (14-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) may have suffered a bigger loss on Thursday, though, when senior point guard Janee Thompson went out in the fourth quarter with what looked like a left ankle injury.
Her status for Kentucky’s game on Monday at Memorial Coliseum versus No. 18 Tennessee is day to day, a team spokesman said.
If Thompson misses any significant time, UK would be down to eight scholarship players — including little-used forward Ivana Jakubcova, who hasn’t played in five straight games — and just three total guards.
Shandricka Sessom and A’Queen Hayes added 14 points apiece for the Rebels (10-9, 2-4), who forced UK into 21 turnovers, which they turned into 22 points.
Ole Miss led by as many as 12 points early in the fourth quarter before the Cats stormed back scoring eight straight — all by Makayla Epps and Thompson — to cut it to four points, 59-55.
A layup by Hayes ended a nearly five-minute scoring drought for the Rebels and helped stall Kentucky’s momentum.
Epps had 22 points for Kentucky.
Junior forward Evelyn Akhator added 13 points, 11 in the second half. After going 0-for-6 versus Auburn in the Cats’ last game, Maci Morris chipped in 10 points, all coming in the first quarter on Thursday night.
But it wasn’t Kentucky’s offense that had Mitchell frustrated after the loss, UK’s second in three games. It was the Cats’ defense, which held Ole Miss to 41.2 percent shooting, but allowed the Rebels to hit 38.5 percent from three-point range.
And even though Kentucky outrebounded the Rebels 36-33, Ole Miss outscored UK 18-11 on second-chance points.
“Defense was poor all night long,” Mitchell said before the team drove an hour to Tupelo, Miss., to try and beat the storm back to Lexington. “We just didn’t play great defense and that’s my fault. I should get them more prepared.”
Tennessee at Kentucky
Monday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)