Ole Miss had a chance to tie or take the lead at the buzzer, but the final attempt from James White came up short as the Rebels fell in the regular season finale to Vanderbilt, 63-61, at SJB Pavilion on Saturday night.
Despite the Rebels (13-18, 4-14 SEC) holding a lead for 23:03 behind the scoring of Matthew Murrell (15 points) and Austin Crowley (15 points), the Commodores (15-15, 7-11 SEC) were able to pull off the Senior Night heartbreaker over the Rebels behind Scotty Pippen Jr.’s 22-point performance.
“We’ve been involved with a lot of these games this year, where it’s a one possession game at the end, and if you go out tonight and watch some college basketball, you’ll see plays being made at the end of games, and we just weren’t able to,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “Give Vanderbilt credit. Scotty Pippen Jr., First Team All-League player, and he made some plays down the stretch. Tough loss for us at home for sure.”
The first half opened with both teams scrapping back-and-forth for the lead, before Ole Miss grabbed a lead 4:16 into the opening frame that they would keep for the remainder of the half. Facilitating the Rebels’ hot first half off the bench was Austin Crowley, who poured in 11 total in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting to help Ole Miss build up a 10-point lead over the Commodores.
With just over a minute to go in the opening period, Vanderbilt used a 9-3 run to cut the Rebel lead down to four, with Pippen Jr. leading the charge. However, a corner-three by James White at the buzzer gave Ole Miss a 33-26 halftime advantage over Vanderbilt.
The seven-point Rebel lead wouldn’t last long into the second half, though, as a 9-2 Vanderbilt run in the opening 4:43 leveled the game 35-35. Galvanized, the Commodores started to build up a gap of their own behind Pippen Jr.’s 11-point second half. Trailing 60-53 with 4:21 left to play, the Rebels needed a big final push in order to jump back into the game.
With Matthew Murrell at the helm of the Rebel attack, Ole Miss pushed, as Murrell scored five unanswered for the Rebels, including a crucial and-one finish. Despite Vanderbilt earning another three points on their offensive end, Murrell held strong, draining a step-back three with just 53 seconds left to play to cut the Ole Miss deficit down to just two.
The Commodores were only in the bonus, and missed the front end of their free throws twice down the stretch to give both Murrell and White three-point attempts at the end of the game to try to push the Rebels ahead. Neither attempt would fall for the Rebels, however, as the Commodores would survive the late push.
Murrell’s night would end with 15 total points, 13 of which came in the second half, while Austin Crowley would also net 15 points while tallying an additional seven assists and three steals to his name.
With the regular season now in the books, the 13th-seeded Rebels will travel to Tampa for a first round SEC Tournament matchup against No. 12 seed Missouri (11-20, 5-13 SEC) on Wednesday. Tipoff for the postseason clash is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports