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Ole Miss men’s basketball squeaks by Missouri with 79-76 win

Photo courtesy of UM Athletics

Following a late scare in which Missouri pulled within one point with five seconds left, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team came away with a much-needed 79-76 win on Saturday and was able to keep its NCAA Tournament chances alive.

After an offensively barren first half from both teams, Missouri took a 33-30 lead into the locker room as the two teams shot a combined 39 percent from the field. Starting the second half hot, Missouri extended its lead to double digits with 12:32 remaining.

In what was looking like possibly the biggest upset of the weekend in the making as Missouri has yet to win an SEC game this year, Ole Miss quickly bounced back with a 17-4 run to take its first lead since late in the first. With the score at 59-58 in the Rebels’ favor with 8:27 left, Chris Beard’s squad kept scoring and was up seven with two minutes to play.

Missouri didn’t go away though. A stout full-court press and a near-perfect run at the charity stripe made it a 75-73 game with 11 seconds to go. Ole Miss star guard Matthew Murrell, who had a season-high 26 points on the night, made a crucial turnover when inbounding the ball and the Tigers immediately scored to make it a 75-74 game. Fortunately for the Rebels, they made good on their next four free throws to close out the contest.

“We did not play well tonight, and again, I’m not taking anything away from Missouri. They’re a good team and they’re well-coached and they stick together,” Beard said after the game. “I did think our approach changed in the second half. We were trying to get to the basket and we were trying to get to the free throw line.”

In addition to Murrell’s big night, Allen Flanigan had his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jaylen Murray (16 points) and Jaemyn Brakefield (14 points) each had double-digit outings.

For Missouri (8-17, 0-12 SEC), Sean East II returned from injury and in a big way. The Tigers’ team captain had a season-high 25 points and six assists.

As for where Ole Miss (19-6, 6-6) currently stands with March Madness right around the corner, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Rebels in his last four in alongside Nevada, Gonzaga, and Utah with six regular season games remaining. Next up for the Rebels will be a midweek matchup against rival Mississippi State in Starkville. That game is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT.

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