Arkansas rolls by Ole Miss to advance to SEC semifinals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Manuale Watkins drove for a layup with 1:28 left to put No. 3 seed Arkansas ahead, and the Razorbacks held off No. 6 seed Ole Miss 73-72 on Friday night in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

Watkins’ layup made it 71-70, and Daryl Macon hit two free throws with 23.8 seconds left to pad Arkansas’ lead. The Razorbacks needed every point as the Rebels took and missed a flurry of shots in the final 10 seconds before Justas Furmanavicius‘ layup just before the buzzer.

Officials reviewed the play before ruling the game over.

Ole Miss (20-13) snapped a two-game winning streak.

Macon finished with 17 points, including 9 of 10 at the free throw line. Jaylen Barford and Dusty Hannahs each added 13.

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Terence Davis led Ole Miss with 26 points.

This was the first time these teams have played in the SEC Tournament, and they turned in a doozy after Arkansas routed Ole Miss 98-80 on Feb. 18.

Ole Miss, fresh off beating Missouri in the Rebels’ tournament opener, jumped out to a 17-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Davis. After that, neither team led by more than six in a game featuring 13 ties, including 40-40 at halftime, along with 12 lead changes.

Breein Tyree gave Ole Miss its last lead at 70-69 with a 3-pointer with 1:47 to go. The Rebels didn’t score again until a layup that was too little and too late.

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With Moses Kingsley helping harass Sebastian Saiz, the Ole Miss senior who was the SEC’s only player to average a double-double this season, into just nine points and 17 rebounds.

Deandre Burnett added 16 points, and Tyree had 13 for Ole Miss.

BIG PICTURE

Ole Miss: The Rebels, who lead both the SEC and the nation with the most made free throws, just couldn’t get to the line enough with Saiz. He was just 1 of 2 at the line. They also didn’t help themselves from 3-point range, missing their first five in the second half trying to match the speedy Razorbacks up and down the court. They finished 1 of 10 beyond the arc in the second half and 8 of 28 for the game despite outrebounding Arkansas 49-39.

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Arkansas: The Razorbacks already had their sights set on their second NCAA Tournament berth in three seasons for the first time in nine seasons. They improved to 23-24 in this tournament and now are a win away from playing in the title game for the second time in three years.

UP NEXT

Arkansas moves on to play in the second semifinal game against No. 7 seed Vanderbilt Saturday on ESPN. The Commodores-Razorbacks matchup will begin 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Alabama-Kentucky game, which tips off at noon.