Ole Miss 65, Auburn 62: Tigers come up short in SEC opener

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

It was back-and-forth game, but the Rebels held on in the end.

KT Harrell, the SEC's leading scorer, missed a tying three-point attempt in the final seconds, and Auburn fell to Ole Miss, 65-62, Thursday night at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford. The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Tigers and extends their losing streak against the Rebels to five.

Auburn went on a 10-0 run early in the second half while Ole Miss was held scoreless for more than 6 minutes, but Andy Kennedy's team was able to rally.

Chris Denson led all scorers with 28 points and added four rebounds and a steal, but he was just 10-of-25 shooting and committed five turnovers. Harrell finished with 11 points, making 2-of-9 shots and 5-of-5 from the line. The two guards were Auburn's only players in double-figures. Allen Payne and Chris Griffin tied for the team lead with seven rebounds. Dion Wad was the Tigers' best performer off the bench, scoring six points on 2-of-3 shooting from three and adding four assists, two steals, a block and a rebound.

Derrick Millinghaus, filling in for the suspended Marshall Henderson, made 5-of-11 shots and led the Rebels with 16 points. Jarvis Summers, Aaron Jones and Ladarius White chipped in with 14, 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Auburn (8-4, 0-1 SEC) shot well from three for most of the game, but a late flourish of higher-risk, desperate shots dropped the Tigers' percentage to 36.4 (8-of-22). They weren't much better inside the arc, shooting 39.3 percent from the floor. Harrell and Denson were the only two Tigers to attempt free throws. Denson went to the line 10 times, but converted on just five shots.

Despite a size disadvantage in the post, Auburn outrebounded Ole Miss, 40-29. The Tigers played at a high level for the entire game and grabbed 19 offensive boards. However, sloppy play on the offensive end spelled their doom. They had a 10-0 advantage in fast-break points, but too often Denson and Harrell drove into traffic and forced wild shots, and there were several poor passes. In the end, Auburn turned it over 18 times, leading to 17 Rebels points, while Ole Miss (10-4, 1-0) compiled 10 steals and seven blocks. The Rebs weren't able to put their bigger bodies to use on offense. Centers Demarco Cox and Dwight Coleby combined for only six points.

It doesn't get any easier from here for the Tigers. Auburn returns home to play Missouri Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will air on ESPNU.

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