Ogilvy, No. 17 Commodores edge Rebels
Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy had a plan to take care of
Vanderbilt's A.J. Ogilvy and an entire week to install it.
"We talked about it for six days," a frustrated Kennedy said after Ogilvy turned in his best game of a very good season.
The 6-foot-11 junior center had 27 points and eight rebounds Thursday night to lead the No. 17 Commodores to an 82-78 victory, their third straight and 14th in the last 16 games.
It was just the kind of quality road win Vanderbilt was looking for to lock up an NCAA tournament appearance.
"We've been talking about getting our road swagger back and we got that tonight," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.
And the Commodores (20-5, 9-2 Southeastern Conference) did it their way and it wasn't pretty. They trailed the Rebels (17-8, 5-6) by 11 points less than 4 minutes in, never led by more than six points and relied on their inside game for the victory.
Vanderbilt made 26 of 34 free throws, including 19 of 22 over the final 6:07.
Ogilvy made all eight of his free throw attempts over the last 4:09, and combined with Jermaine Beal to hit 7 of 8 in the final minute.
"I knew they were shorthanded inside and my teammates were good to get me the ball," Ogilvy said. "It's definitely my best game this season."
Ogilvy was 8 of 10 from the field and 11 of 13 from the line. It seemed like every time he touched the ball late in the second half, a whistle wasn't far behind.
Center DeAundre Cranston fouled out for the fifth time in 11 SEC games and four other Rebels finished with four fouls, including point guard Chris Warren, who had 23 points.
The Rebels lost for the fourth time in five games. They have struggled in the front court and dropped out of the Top 25 two weeks ago after rising as high as No. 14.
Center Reginald Buckner returned after missing four games with a sprained ankle and gave Ole Miss an early boost as they sprinted to an early double-digit lead. But he tweaked the injury early in the second half and Kennedy was forced to shuffle big men in and out as the fouls mounted.
It was a familiar theme for Ole Miss, which has little depth above 6-6.
"It's something we have to live with," said 6-7 forward Murphy Holloway, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
Still, the Rebels had plenty of chances after opening the game with the quick flurry.
Ole Miss scored 16 points in the first 3:52 to take its biggest lead, 16-5. The Rebels were 5 of 6 from the field and 4 of 4 from 3-point range in that span.
After that, though, they went cold, missing 18 of their next 22 shots and scoring just 12 more points in the half.
The Commodores used an 11-2 run to get back in the game and held the Rebels to one field goal for the final 8:25 of the first half to take a 30-28 lead.
Ole Miss used an 8-0 run for a momentary 38-36 lead with 17 minutes left and then a 10-2 spurt for a 50-44 lead with 11:01 left, but Vanderbilt quickly shifted down low.
The Commodores hit 6 of 6 free throws during an 18-8 run during which the Rebels missed 4 of 5 attempts from the line. Holloway missed the first shot of a 1-and-1 -- his third failure to convert the bonus -- and Buckner missed two attempts as Vanderbilt made its move.
That gave the Commodores a 65-60 lead and though the Rebels kept it close, Ogilvy and Beal sealed the win.
Vanderbilt's strategy was hardly unexpected. They have hit 251 of 346 free throws in 11 league games (72.5 percent), making more shots than seven other SEC teams have attempted. Thursday night's performance at the line helped the Commodores improve to 5-0 against the SEC West this season and solidify their hold on second place in the SEC East behind No. 2 Kentucky, which they host Saturday.
"It was a grind," Ogilvy said, "but it's a huge win for us."