Vanderbilt flies past Ole Miss
By By Austin Bishop / EMG regional sports director
March 12, 2004
ATLANTA Ole Miss tried to make a run against Vanderbilt late in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Rebels, Vandy ran a little faster.
Ole Miss cut the Vanderbilt lead to 10 with 7:02 left in the game, but the Commodore trio of Dawid Przybyszewski, Russell Lakey and Jason Howlerda responded for the next three baskets to lead Vandy to a 70-50 win here at the Georgia Dome.
The Commodores, now 20-8 on the season, will take on No. 4 Mississippi State at 6:30 tonight in the quarterfinals. The game will be televised on the Jefferson Pilot network.
While Ole Miss did make a little run late in the game, it was something that happened midway through the first half that doomed the Rebels' chances.
Ole Miss trailed just 17-16 with 11:12 to play, but failed on three trips down the floor to take the lead.
That third trip was particularly devastating to the Rebels, who end their season at 13-15.
It was then that senior swingman Aaron Harper one of Ole Miss' two biggest cogs went to the floor at midcourt for a loose ball.
When he got up he was the proud owner of a gash in his lower lip that required 17 stitches to repair.
He returned to the game, but by that time, any momentum Ole Miss had was long gone.
Vanderbilt responded with a 12-2 run on the way to a convincing 42-27 halftime lead.
While that certainly did knock the breath out of the Rebels temporarily, Harper wasn't about to use the injury as an excuse.
Reed and Harper combined for 50 points when the Rebels dropped a 77-65 decision to Vanderbilt earlier this season, but connected on just 8-of-27 shots between them on Thursday night.
Harper's earlier effort against Vanderbilt 29 points and 10 rebounds was not lost on Stallings.
Przybyszewski controlled the game early for Vanderbilt, scoring 12 of his game-high 17 points in the first half.
But it was Lakey, a senior point guard, who stole the show in Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings' mind.
Matt Freije, the SEC's leading scorer, tossed in 14 points for Vandy, while Lakey had 11.
Reed led Ole Miss with 15 points, and Harper scored 10.