Mississippi 68, Auburn 54

Nick Williams scored a career-high 22 points, and Mississippi

defeated Auburn 68-54 in the first round of the Southeastern

Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

Williams, whose previous career-high was 21, was 9-of-14

shooting and drained four 3-pointers. Murphy Holloway added 13

points and 13 rebounds for the Rebels (19-12), who have won four

straight and might be able to make a case for an at-large bid to

the NCAA tournament should they upset Tennessee in their

second-round game Friday night.

Frankie Sullivan scored 15 points for Auburn (15-16), which lost

for the fourth time in five games on the same day the NCAA

acknowledged that federal investigators are looking into

point-shaving allegations against suspended Tigers guard Varez

Ward.

Kenny Gabriel and Chris Denson each scored 11 points for the

Tigers, who were plagued by poor shooting much of the game,

finishing at 32.7 percent (18 of 55). Mississippi shot 43.8 percent

(21 of 48) and outrebounded Auburn 45-31. Gabriel, who is Auburn’s

second-leading scorer, is averaging just over 12 points a game, was

limited to only 13 minutes because of foul trouble.

Jarvis Summers added 12 points for the Rebels.

Williams hit consecutive 3s during a 12-4 Ole Miss run early in

the second half that was capped by Demarco Cox’s tip-in and gave

the Rebels their largest lead to that point at 42-30.

Auburn declined to fold, responding with an 11-3 run of its own

that included fast-break baskets by Denson and Josh Wallace after

Mississippi turnovers.

Denson’s free throw had the Tigers as close as 45-42 with 9:10

to go before Mississippi started to pull away again with the help

of five straight points by Williams on his fourth 3 of the game and

another jumper.

Williams later added a baseline jumper and a driving baseline

floater to push the Rebels’ lead to 57-48, and Ole Miss retained

control the rest of the way while Auburn missed a handful of

3s.

Holloway had 10 of his points in the first half. His basket on a

spin move in the lane, followed by his lob that set up Reginald

Buckner’s alley-oop jam, gave Ole Miss a 22-17 lead.

Rob Chubb hit a couple short jumpers to trim Auburn’s deficit to

23-21, but Auburn did not hit from the field for the last 5:17 of

the first half, while the Rebels’ Williams drained a 3 and midrange

jumper to make it 28-21.

Denson’s free throws pulled Auburn to 28-23, and neither team

scored again in the final minute before halftime.