Sunday, March 11, 2001

Mississippi takes out No. 5 Florida




The Associated Press

        NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mississippi seniors Jason Flanigan and Rahim Lockhart didn't want a repeat of last season's last-place finish in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division. With the addition of freshmen Justin Reed and Aaron Harper, this year has been different.

        Reed scored 15 points, Lockhart scored 11 and Flanigan made three free throws down the stretch Saturday to help No.14 Mississippi upset fifth-ranked Florida 74-69 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.

        The Rebels (25-6) meet No.15 Kentucky, an 87-78 winner over Arkansas in the second semifinal, at 1p.m. today in the championship.

        This time last year, Ole Miss was already out of the tournament and headed toward the NIT.

        “Last year was a sick feeling coming in last place,” Flanigan said. “Over the summer we worked hard and we knew we had to lead these young guys. We knew they were going to work hard and listen to us.”

        Florida (23-6), which got to the Final Four last season, was hoping its battle with injuries could be conquered with another win to help lock up a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

        “I don't know enough to say where we'll be seeded,” Gators' coach Billy Donovan said. “If we get an invitation, I'll be very, very pleased and happy.”

        Ole Miss had gone ahead by seven with 7:55 left, but Florida rallied again with an 8-1 run capped by Udonis Haslem's basket that tied it at 65 with 4:25 to go. Flanigan then made one free throw and Lockhart scored to put Ole Miss back ahead 68-65 with 2:49 left.

        “It's one of the toughest games I've had the opportunity to coach,” Rebels coach Rod Barnes said. “We kept hanging in there, and that's what we've done all season long.”

        Flanigan finished 6-of-8 from the foul line and had eight points.

        MISSISSIPPI (25-6) — Reed 6-11 3-9 15, Lockhart 4-10 3-6 11, Sanders 3-5 1-2 7, Holmes 5-10 0-0 13, Flanigan 1-5 6-8 8, Harper 4-7 0-0 11, Harrison 0-1 0-0 0, Hayes 0-1 0-0 0, Wade 3-6 1-1 8, Kirklin 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 26-56 15-28 74.

        FLORIDA (23-6) — Bonner 4-8 1-3 11, Parker 3-3 0-1 7, Haslem 8-13 4-10 20, Dupay 3-10 2-2 10, Nelson 4-12 3-5 13, Greene 0-1 2-2 2, Kliewer 0-0 0-0 0, Halton 0-2 0-0 0, Colas 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 24-53 14-25 69.

        Halftime—Mississippi 40, Florida 34. 3-point goals—Mississippi 7-17 (Harper 3-4, Holmes 3-7, Wade 1-1, Reed 0-1, Sanders 0-1, Hayes 0-1, Flanigan 0-2), Florida 7-18 (Nelson 2-4, Bonner 2-5, Dupay 2-6, Parker 1-1, Halton 0-2). Fouled out—Lockhart. Rebounds—Mississippi 32 (Lockhart 8), Florida 37 (Haslem 14). Assists—Mississippi 13 (Flanigan 5), Florida 12 (Haslem, Dupay 3).

       



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