Western Kentucky beats Mississippi
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) – Recent experience helped Western Kentucky rally for a surprising road win over a Southeastern Conference opponent.
The Hilltoppers beat Mississippi 81-74 on Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum, coming back from a 16-point deficit in the second half thanks to a 30-9 run.
Western Kentucky (4-4) had been in a similar spot just one week earlier.
Down 22 points at Murray State on Dec. 6, the Hilltoppers pulled to within four points in the second half before losing 93-81.
This time, they got over the hump.
“It’s kind of who these kids are,” Western Kentucky coach Ray Harper said. “Today we did what you have to do. We went 15 of 15 in the second half from the free-throw line, took better care of the ball and played with a little more confidence.”
Ole Miss (6-3) pulled to within 69-66 with two minutes left on LaDarius White’s free throw, but T.J. Price’s jumper with 1:17 left extended the Hilltoppers’ lead to two possessions. Western Kentucky made all 10 of its free throws in the final minutes to clinch the win.
Ole Miss got a steal and layup from Martavious Newby with 15:37 left to build a 54-38 lead. From there, Western Kentucky chipped away quickly. Price connected on a pair of free throws to start Western Kentucky’s comeback.
“What we always preach in practice and even in shoot-around is defense,” Price said. “We’re a team based on defense. We know when we step in the gym, talent-wise, we’re not going to be better than too many teams. But we know we can be the toughest and the best defensive team. That’s going to always give us a shot.”
Price’s jumper with 8:20 left gave Western Kentucky a 58-57 lead, one that was erased 14 seconds later on Stefan Moody’s 3-pointer. Price and Moody traded 3-pointers on the next two possessions before Trency Jackson’s 3-pointer with 6:26 left gave Western Kentucky a 64-63 lead, one the Hilltoppers never relinquished.
Price scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers, to pace Western Kentucky. He also added 10 rebounds and five assists.
George Fant added 17 points for the Hilltoppers while Chris Harrison-Docks had 12.
“We thought T.J. Price was the key, and look at his numbers – 26 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “That’s what you want out of your senior guard. He came up and got a little bit of rhythm, and then he just started toying with us off the dribble.”
Ole Miss was led by Moody’s 25 points. Moody made four 3-pointers in the first half to spur a 27-9 run that gave the Rebels a lead that reached 17 points.
“If we’re going to be a great team like we’re capable of being, we have to bring it in both halves,” Moody said. “It’s not one half of a game. It’s two halves. You have to come with it and play both halves.”
White added 15 points off the bench for the Rebels, who lost for the third time in Oxford already this season. Ole Miss also lost to Charleston Southern and TCU.