It's a good thing Ole Miss baseball season has started, because basketball season, for all intents and purposes, might just be over.
A foul shot with less than two seconds to play gave Georgia (14-10, 8-4 SEC) a 61-60 win over the Rebel roundballers (16-9, 7-5 SEC), handing Andy Kennedy's squad its second loss to a triple-digit RPI team in the span of a week. After losing to Alabama (110 RPI) on a buzzer beater Tuesday, the close loss to the Bulldogs (100 RPI) likely seals the fate of a team that came into the week already on Joe Lunardi's first five out of the NCAA Tourney.
With the game tied at 60 and the final seconds ticking way, Dwight Coleby committed a foul on Georgia's Charles Mann, who hit the back end of two free throws. It was obvious that Mann intentionally launched himself into Coleby after drawing the defender into the air with a shot fake -- but that's just how the game is called.
The Rebs looked like they would run away early, and despite a modest Georgia run to end the first half, entered intermission up 28-23. They went dead in the second half though, particularly during a six-minute stretch beginning around the 12-minute mark in which they scored just two points and allowed Georgia to take the lead.
Georgia's run was fueled by sophomore guard Kenny Gaines, who blew up in the second half to score 19 of his team-high 21 points.
Marshall Henderson led the Rebs with 24 points, hitting five of his 11 three-pointers.
Georgia opened up a 10-point lead with six minutes remaining, but Ole Miss finally started landing shots again and quickly closed the gap. A big part of that was a newfound competence at the free-throw line -- after starting 4-of-13 from the charity stripe, the Rebs hit 11 of their next 12. Henderson went 7-of-7 on free throws, including a pair resulting from a technical foul that gave Ole Miss a one-point lead with 1:55 remaining.
Gaines nailed a 3 with 47 second left to put Georgia up 60-57, but Jarvis Summers responded by converting an old-school 3-point play to tie the game with 33 seconds on the clock. The Bulldogs held for a last-second shot, which resulted in Coleby's foul on Mann.
The big men were once again bullied on the glass as Georgia out-rebounded the Rebels, 49 to 34. Eighteen of the Bulldogs' boards came on the offensive end, resulting in 20 second-chance points.
Ole Miss takes on No. 14 Kentucky and No. 3 Florida next week, and must win one, if not both, to pull back onto the bubble. Let's be honest, though: that probably won't happen, and barring another out-of-nowhere SEC Tournament run, this squad is likely NIT-bound.
On the bright side, the Diamond Rebs pounded Stetson 11-1 earlier in the day to move to 2-0 on the young season. Thank God for baseball (until that falls apart, at which point we'll transition into the 'thank God for football' phase).