After Ole Miss began SEC play with two losses, junior guard Rasheed Brooks painted the picture of a team in dire straits.
“Desperate,” Brooks said. “Our backs were against the wall.”
The Rebels responded accordingly on Saturday night. Brooks hit a straightaway 3-pointer with 39 seconds left, and Deandre Burnett went 4 for 4 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds to help Ole Miss outlast Auburn 88-85.
“Initially I think ‘Dre (Burnett) was going to get the shot because they drew it up for him,” Brooks said. “But I told him before the play, ‘I’m going to be right behind you, bro. If you need it, I’m right there.’ And he got stopped and I was like, ‘Dre! Dre! Dre!’ He passed it to me and as soon as it (left) my hands, I knew it was good.”
Terence Davis went 1 for 2 from the foul line to give Ole Miss (10-5, 1-2 SEC) its three-point lead with 12 seconds remaining. Auburn (10-5, 0-3) then took a timeout with 3.9 seconds left before inbounding to T.J. Lang, whose 3-point attempt from the right wing glanced off the front of the rim as time soon expired.
“It was a great look,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “It was a beautiful pass by Mustapha. Perfect. A wide-open 3.”
Burnett had 18 points and eight assists, and Davis had 16 points. Auburn’s Jared Harper scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. Mustapha Heron added 20 points for the Tigers.
“It’s definitely a win we needed to get,” said Cullen Neal, who had 13 points. “It’s a road win. A road win in the SEC is always good. I think this will put us on a little run.”
Auburn took a 41-33 lead into halftime, shooting 50 percent from the field to Ole Miss’ 42.9 percent and outrebounding the Rebels 19-13.
But Ole Miss began the second half on an 11-3 run, with Davis’ 3-pointer with 16:42 to go tying the score at 44.
The Rebels took a 72-60 lead on a 3-pointer by Neal with 5:29 and led by 10 with 3:36 remaining before three free throws by Harper tied it at 80 with 1:02 left.
“This feels good, man,” Brooks said. “I just want to run some off now. We were down 0-2, finally got one on the road, so that’s a confidence booster. We just have to try to run some off now.”
Auburn outrebounded Ole Miss 36-26. It was just the second time this season that the Rebels, who lead the SEC in rebounding, were outrebounded by an opponent.
Ole Miss comes home for a meeting with Georgia on Wednesday. Yante Maten averages 20.4 points and J.J. Frazier averages 16 for the Bulldogs, who last season split their season series with Ole Miss.
<em>Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports </em>