Mississippi 78, Vanderbilt 55
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ It came down to old-fashioned Rebel grit, led by point guard Michael White’s pit-bull playing style, Vanderbilt said after Mississippi’s 78-55 victory Saturday night.
And, coaches and players agreed, it would have helped if Vandy didn’t panic early on.
``Ole Miss really beat us tonight,″ Vanderbilt head coach Jan van Breda Kolff said. ``They are a very physical team. We were hoping to match up with their intensity but we didn’t.
``I thought that Michael White was tremendous. He played like a warrior, and all the Rebels played tough. We didn’t get that from our team tonight.″
Ole Miss (9-11, 3-7 SEC) used strong board work on the offensive end and fed off poor Vanderbilt shooting to jump to a 21-4 lead in the first 10 minutes of play. Keith Carter connected on a 3-pointer and Darby hit on another pair.
White’s eight assists led the Rebels.
``Michael White is a tough little point guard,″ guard Frank Seckar said. ``When you’re trying to guard him, it’s tough. It’s not very fun trying to chase him around the court.
``We were tentative at the beginning,″ he said. ``We just tried to fight through it.″
Vanderbilt (14-10, 4-7 SEC) responded with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 21-10 with 8:52 left before the half. Two free throws by Seckar cut the Ole Miss advantage to 27-19 with 5:18 left.
Ansu Sesay hit two free throws, and Boone and Jason Smith converted offensive rebounds into baskets on the Rebels’ next three possessions. It extended Ole Miss’ lead to 33-19 with 2:47 left before halftime.
``This was a game that I thought we were prepared for,″ Kolff said. ``Ole Miss came out and hit their first few shots and we never recovered ... It’s hard to catch up when you get behind, like we did tonight.″
Ole Miss came out charging in the second half. Sesay converted a layup on Vanderbilt’s next possession, and Carter picked off a Commodore pass and found Jason Smith downcourt for an easy dunk and a 37-21 lead.
Joezeon Darby scored 17 points and Anthony Boone added 15 and 11 rebounds for the Rebels.
Vanderbilt was led by Pax Whitehead with 11 points.