Thursday, January 18, 2007

Close but no Cigar

BATON ROUGE — Ole Miss, which hasn't won a Southeastern Conference road game in more than a year, had an excellent opportunity against LSU here Wednesday night.
Ole Miss trailed by a single point with five minutes to play before the 16th- ranked Tigers made all the clutch plays late to claim a 62-55 victory.
The Rebels, 12-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC, have now lost nine straight SEC road games. LSU moved to 13-4 and 2-1.
Asked what will it take for Ole Miss to win on the road, Rebels senior guard Todd Abernethy responded, "We've just got to step up at crunch time. Over the last four minutes, LSU made the plays you have to make and we didn't. It's that simple."
And that painful for Ole Miss.
Ole Miss cut LSU's lead to 43-42 midway through the second half on Clarence Sanders' 3-pointer. The Rebels then had two chances to take the lead. Sanders missed a well-guarded 3-pointer and then a running 16-footer on the baseline.
Neither shot was what Rebels coach Andy Kennedy wanted, but Kennedy was quick to point out, "Clarence hit two big shots, good shots, to get us in that position. I just need him to learn the difference between the shots we want him to take and the bad ones."
A basket - and a lead - would have been huge at that point, Abernethy said.
"It would have gotten them back on their heels and given us a big boost," Abernethy said. "But you can't just look at those two shots. We missed enough makable shots to have had a big lead at that point."
Ole Miss trailed the entire game after Darnell Lazare and Glen Davis made eye-level shots in the paint to give LSU a 4-0 lead. After trailing by as many 11 in the first half, the Rebels made a second-half run.
Dwayne Curtis scored a rebound basket with 15 minutes, 27 seconds remaining to cut the LSU lead to 37-34. After that same play, Davis, the Tigers' best player, left the game rubbing a sore left shoulder.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, Davis returned 80 seconds later and helped LSU when it needed it most near the end.
"We played with a lot of effort," Kennedy said. "I can't fault that, but in the end, this deep in the season, you have to make the plays. We know what LSU is going to do. They know what we're going to do, so you've just got to make plays.
"They made them. We were down by one when Terry Martin makes an SEC-level basket off the dribble; then Tasmin Mitchell jumps up and sticks a big shot. Big Baby (Davis) makes a pro play (a backboard-rattling slam dunk) because he's a pro. During those same trips, we didn't even get a shot at the basket. Hence, the game gets away from you.
"We've done that in our three SEC losses."
Mitchell led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Martin with 15. Sanders led Ole Miss with 12. Curtis added 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Kenny Williams provided 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The road gets no easier for the Rebels, who play at No. 1-ranked Florida Saturday.
"We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain," Abernethy said. "We just have to look at it as a great opportunity."
LSU coach John Brady, a McComb native and former Belhaven player, wasn't happy with his team's play. His assessment was much the same as Kennedy's.
"I didn't think we played with much emotion," Brady said. "But the bottom line is there at the end that we had to make in order to win the game, and that's why you play."

1 comment:

Jenny Bolster said...

That's exactly what happened against Kentucky. Maybe we'll get it together by the end of the season. Isn't it time for Baseball?