The table was set for Ole Miss to be a March Madness Cinderella in 2013, but the Rebels couldn’t pull it off.
What might have happened if the Southwest Philly Floater had clanked the back of the rim and fallen away?
The Rebels were tied at 74 with 12 seconds left against La Salle when Tyrone Garland drove the right side of the lane, pulled back and got enough air under the ball to get it over Reggie Buckner and through the net. Garland later told us that shot was called the Southwest Philly Floater.
Ole Miss guard Jarvis Summers missed a desperation heave the buzzer, and the Rebels’ season ended.
That was in Kansas City, and some big teams had already fallen in the West Region. For starters, La Salle had upset Kansas State, so the Rebels were not having to play the Wildcats in what amounted to a home game.
On the other side of the bracket 9 seed Wichita State had upset West No. 1 Gonzaga.
So it was Ole Miss, a 12 seed that had beaten 5 seed Wisconsin, and 13 seed La Salle, playing its third tournament game after starting in Dayton, who were playing with the Sweet 16 on the line.
Had the Rebels gotten past La Salle, they would have faced a Wichita State team that ended up winning 30 games that season, but the Shockers had lost nine times, too, including to Missouri Valley foes Evansville, Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois.
They were a good defense and rebounding team, but so was Ole Miss with Buckner and Murphy Holloway.
They were typically good at defending the 3 but could be had there. It’s possible that streaky Marshall Henderson could have had a big game for Ole Miss.
That Ole Miss team was solid inside, in the backcourt with leadership from Summers and had Nick Williams, a hustler and glue guy as a big guard or small forward.
Could the Rebels have put it all together in a regional final and beaten Ohio State to reach the Final Four?
Because of the Southwest Philly Floater, they never got the chance.