NASHVILLE — Ole Miss’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002 took a considerable hit Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Led by the outside shooting of Cameron Tatum, and another double-double effort from Wayne Chism, No. 15 Tennessee defeated the Rebels 76-65 in front of a crowd of 19,123 at the Bridgestone Arena.
Ole Miss (21-10 overall) needed to beat the Volunteers (25-7) in order to improve their chances of making the “Big Dance” next week, but the loss likely placed them on the outside looking in with regards to making the field of 65. Tatum scored 15 points for the Volunteers, who trailed 35-34 at the half, while Chism was too much down low for the Rebels as he scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
Chris Warren led three Rebels in double figures with 16 points, but he was held scoreless for the final 11 minutes of the contest. Zach Graham finished the game with 15 points for the Rebels, while teammate Terrico White chipped in 13. Ole Miss shot poorly from the field — 38.6 percent — but its 13 misses in 25 shot attempts from the free-throw line was the most negative statistic and biggest reason for the loss. Conversely, Tennessee made 26 of 37 from the foul line.
Ole Miss also committed 14 turnovers in the game, with Warren committing a season-high nine turnovers. The Rebels will be selected to compete in the National Invitation Tournament if they don’t make the NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced on Sunday. Ole Miss has played in the NIT two times under coach Andy Kennedy, with the last trip coming in 2008 and resulting in a trip to New York for the NIT Final Four. (March 12, 2010)