Auburn hands Ole Miss another close loss

Published 8:42 am Thursday, February 23, 2023

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Ole Miss followed a familiar — and unwelcome — script on Wednesday.

Wendell Green Jr. scored 13 of his 23 points in the final six minutes — including going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds — to help Auburn beat Ole Miss 78-74.

Ole Miss rallied from a 12-point deficit early in the second half, and led 63-62 with six minutes left. Auburn then went on a 13-4 run that gave it the lead for good.

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Ole Miss (10-18, 2-13 Southeastern Conference) lost its fourth game in a row, and for the 15th time in 17 games. Seven of its 18 losses this season have been by four points or less, and another was in overtime.

The Rebels play at home against LSU on Saturday night.

“We had some unbelievable opportunities in transition and just didn’t convert. We turned it over and we had so many chances for and-ones, three-point plays, and we came out with zero-and-one,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “I’m proud of our team. They keep fighting the good fight. There’s going to be a conference tournament at the end and we’re going to be a tough out.”

Johni Broome scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting for Auburn (19-9, 9-6). Jaylin Williams added 12 points, and Allen Flanigan had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Green hit Williams on a back-door cut for a two-hand dunk, converted a three-point play and then made a layup before Broome made back-to-back baskets and Green added another layup that capped a 13-4 run that gave the Tigers the lead for good at 70-64 with 3:38 to play.

“Johni made some really big shots and some really big plays, had some big blocks,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Al did a lot of things to impact winning, rebounding and made some big shots. Jaylin Williams was solid, and we did a great job from the foul line. I’m very happy for that group because they stepped up.”

James White — who had only made three 3-pointers all season — made his second 3 of the game to cut Ole Miss’ deficit to 74-73 with 14 seconds left, but Green made four foul shots to seal it.

Matthew Murrell led Ole Miss with 23 points. Myles Burns had 14 points, six rebounds and six steals, and White finished with a season-high 13-points.

Auburn went 22-for-24 at the free throw line in the game. Auburn outscored the Rebels 22-20 from the free-throw line despite shooting eight fewer foul shots than Ole Miss (32).

The Tigers had lost four of their last five and six of eight.

“We needed that one,” Pearl said. “Our best players stepped up and that was great to see. You win games at the end by getting stops and getting to the foul line. Wendell was terrific closing it out.”