By Parrish Alford
ATLANTA – LSU center Glen Davis wanted another shot at Ole Miss.
He got it, but it wasn’t quite the outcome he envisioned.
Davis dominated the Rebels in Oxford only to have the turnover that led to Ole Miss’ 71-70 victory.
Friday in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals at the Georgia Dome, the Rebels denied Davis the basketball. They jumped on the Tigers, never trailing in an 80-60 victory before an evening session crowd of 16,203.
Bam Doyne led the Rebels with 26 points, his season high in an SEC game. He and his teammates knew of Davis’ wishes.
“We were aware of that. We talked about it and used it as motivation,” Doyne said. “When somebody calls you out like that, you have to accept the challenge. We were aware of that and it fueled us.”
Ole Miss (20-11) will play on “Semifinal Saturday” for the first time since 2001 when it takes on SEC champion and sixth-ranked Florida at 3:15 p.m. The Gators advanced by beating Georgia 74-57 in Friday’s third game.
“The good news is we’re playing tomorrow. The bad news is we might be playing the best team in the nation,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Ole Miss led by 20 at halftime. The lead was never smaller than 14 and was as large as 25 after backup point guard Brian Smith drained a 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left for a 78-53 advantage.
Ole Miss shot 52 percent and placed four players in double figures. Kenny Williams had 12 points, Eniel Polynice 11 and Todd Abernethy 10.
LSU (17-15), which advanced by upsetting Tennessee 76-67 in overtime in Thursday’s late game, looked leg-weary in the beginning and did not get its second field goal until 5:43 remained in the first half. By then Ole Miss had opened a 20-7 lead.
Davis had 26 points and 11 rebounds in the Rebels’ Feb. 14 win. Friday the Tigers had trouble getting the ball to their big man.
Jermey Parnell set a good defensive tone in a man defense, a trend that continued when Kennedy switched to a zone in the latter minutes of the period. Davis had 25 points and 15 rebounds against Tennessee the night before. He finished with six points on 1-for-8 shooting and had three rebounds against Ole Miss.
With early energy from big men Parnell and Williams, it was easy to tell which team was playing its first tournament game.
LSU finished the period 4-for-29 from the field and was out-rebounded 23-17. LSU had a 37-34 rebound edge for the game.
Williams scored eight of the Rebels’ first 10 points and also had a pair of blocked shots.
The Rebels started Williams and Parnell in the post. Curtis, slowed by an injury to his big toe, came off the bench at the 15:55 mark. He had not practiced before the tournament but had seven points in 19 minutes.
Guard Clarence Sanders had the game-winning shot in Oxford but was unable to get going early. Doyne pitched in with a 17-footer and a pair of 3-pointers and was 6-for-11 in the half.
Sanders finished with seven points in the half, including three free throws with 3.1 seconds left to stretch the Ole Miss lead to 37-17 at halftime. He missed both of his 3-point attempts.
Free throws helped the Tigers hang around. The Rebels were not able to get into their transition game and score quick points to take advantage of the stagnant Tigers until they closed with an 11-2 run.