KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) In foul trouble and a bit shaken up, Rahim Lockhart made the most of his 15 minutes of play.
The muscular Mississippi center sank the go-ahead free throw
with 50 seconds left, then made the defensive play of the game as
third-seeded Ole Miss held off No. 15 seed Iona 72-70 on Friday night in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
Fri March 16
This turned out to be a great ballgame that went to the wire.
With a shot to pull the game out, Iona got a tough break when it lost possession in the
Ole Miss came through thanks to Emanuel Wade. He averages four points a game but
stepped up with 19 big ones to lift Rod Barnes' team into the second round. The third
seed survived, but it was not easy.
"This is exactly what we wanted," Lockhart said. "And we just
took care of it."
With 1.8 seconds to go, Lockhart stripped Iona's Courtney Fields
of the ball in the lane and Jason Holmes then hit a free throw in a
back-and-forth affair that was close in every way but the seeding.
"My man broke open and left me," Lockhart said. "But I was
able to get back to him. I knocked the ball out. Fortunately,
Holmes was there to finish it off."
Lockhart was shaken up after crashing to the floor and played
only four minutes of the first half. He played just 11 minutes of
the second half, and finished with four fouls.
Mississippi (26-7) will play sixth-seeded Notre Dame in the
second round. The Irish beat Xavier 83-71.
Mississippi (26-7) shot 44 percent while the Gaels (22-11), looking for their first NCAA win since 1980, shot 41 percent. Iona had 40 rebounds, Ole Miss 36. The Rebels sank 14 free throws, the Gaels 13.
Iona, with star center Nakiea Miller in foul trouble, took a
70-67 lead with 1:56 to play on Earl Johnson's basket. Then Emmanuel Wade, having one of his finest games, tied it 70-all with a 3-pointer for Ole Miss.
With 50 seconds left, Lockhart outmuscled Miller for a rebound
under the basket, and forced Miller's fifth foul.
A 46-percent free-throw shooter, Lockhart made one foul shot,
putting the Rebels on top 71-70.
Miller, Iona's senior center and team leader, fouled out after
scoring 19 points.
"When you're down one point with 10 seconds left, you have a chance to win, it's more painful to lose a game like that than a blowout," Miller said.
"I won't play any more college basketball. I don't have any more to say."
Wade, who averaged just four points for the season, had a
career-high 19 for the Rebels, whose No. 3 seed is their highest
ever. Lockhart had 12 and Jason Holmes and Aaron Harper each had
Miller also had 10 rebounds for the Gaels and Earl Johnson had
Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes tipped his cap to Iona coach Jeff
"To be honest, I feel I got outcoached," Barnes said. "But
our kids took care of it. We knew they were going to play zone.
That wasn't a surprise. But I just didn't teach our guys and
prepare them on what will happen and when to recognize if they're
in the matchup or the 3-2 zone. After the half we adjusted."
With Ole Miss clinging to a 65-64 lead, Justin Reed blocked
three straight Iona shots, stopping Miller twice and then swatting
away Phil Grant's shot with 3:14 to go.
"That's just the way of our team," said Barnes. "We wait until the last five minutes and then make great defensive plays. There's no doubt that may have saved us."
A moment later, Grant took the inbounds pass and hit a 15-footer
that gave the Gaels a 66-65 edge.
In the back-and-forth first half, the lead changed hands six
times, with Leland Norris hitting a long 3-pointer 16 seconds
before the buzzer to give the Gaels a 38-35 lead.
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|Iona's Courtney Fields finds himself battling on the bottom of a pile that includes Mississippi's Rahim Lockhart, left, and Jason Harrison|
Men's College Basketball Scoreboard
Rod Barnes' Ole Miss team knows how to make the big plays. (courtesy NCAA)
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Jeff Ruland is proud of the way his team held up under the pressure. (courtesy NCAA)
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