BLOG – It took the No. 3 seed Ole Miss Rebels a while to get going, but when they did, they went full bore and ended up knocking off No. 6 Missouri, 64-62, in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Friday night.A runner by Derrick Millinghaus with 1.1 seconds left not only set up a semifinal matchup with the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Bridgestone Arena, the game-winning shot from the Schenectady, N.Y. freshman may have just vaulted the Rebels into the NCAA Tournament.
“I know the NCAA T ournament doesn’t officially start until next Thursday, but we just gave you a precursor. That was a first-round NCAA game between two NCAA Tournament teams. Missouri is an outstanding team. They really came out and I thought early, put us on our heels with their execution,” Kennedy said. “Phil Pressey was tremendous off the bounce, but our guys continued to fight and continued to grind which has been our mantra all year. Keep yourself in a position to make a play at the end and Derrick Millinghaus came in under adverse circumstances, Jarvis Summers is out with what we believe is a concussion, they’re going through tests right now. So he comes in and makes huge plays for us down the stretch.”
Millinghaus, Ole Miss’ reserve point guard, was filling in for Summers, who went down early in the second half with an apparent concussion. On a night when the SEC’s leading scorer, Marshall Henderson, led every player with 27 points, Millinghaus ended up being the hero for the Rebels when he hit a floating shot in the paint following a Missouri turnover.
The original plan was for Henderson to get involved in taking the last shot, but the ball ended up in Millinghaus’ hands after Missouri’s defense cut off Henderson.
“I just wanted to win. That’s what I wanted to do,” said Millinghaus, who finished with 11 points in 22 minutes. “We drew up a play for Marshall at the timeout, but I saw I had the lane. I just went in, threw it up and hoped it went in.”
Kennedy, whose Rebels improved to 24-8 with the win, was able to elaborate a lot more on the final sequence that started with Missouri’s turnover with 27 seconds left in the game.
“There’s a timeout called. I think there’s 20-some odd seconds on the clock and we try to pick them up a little bit in full court. We wanted to try to deny Pressey the ball. Make somebody else bring the ball up because he’s such an integral part of everything they do. I’ve certainly never coached against a team where one player dominates the ball for the amount of time he does. We thought if we can keep him from getting it, it may throw off the rhythm of their last shot,” Kennedy said. “We were trying to get a stop. We thought the best case scenario we may be able to get something in the open floor at the end of the game to try to get this thing into overtime. We put a little pressure on them. I don’t know what really happened. It had to be some kind miscommunication because (Missouri’s Laurence Bowers) just threw it to us.
“We then get a timeout at about 20 seconds to play. I wanted to run some baseline screening action for Marshall. We talked about hey, the slip will be open, meaning the screener coming to the ball, and what I really wanted Marshall to do he did, which he does about one out of every 10 times I ask him; that is, he had the momentum. They’re chasing him off that screen,” Kennedy continued. “Dribble penetrate to the middle of the floor. Get it to the middle of the floor. Don’t settle for a jump shot. Marshall got it to the middle of the floor, and as he said, as is the case with most everybody, the passer, in this case Derrick, his man helps over. We get it to the open man, Derrick then had an opportunity to crack him off the dribble and get to the floater.”
The rest, as they say, is history as a desperation heave past half court never materialized for the Tigers to even get a shot up.
Ole Miss, which trailed 31-24 at the half and as much as 13 points in the second half, will now play Vanderbilt in the semifinals Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The contest can be seen on ABC.
Below are two video interviews, one of Murphy Holloway and the other of Henderson, in the Ole Miss locker room after Friday’s win.
(March 16, 2013)