March 18, 2001
KANSAS CITY,Mo. – The smallest man in the game made the biggest shot.
Jason Harrison, Missisippi’s 5-foot-5 point guard, hit a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left as the shot clock ran down, boosting the Rebels past Notre Dame 59-56 on Sunday. Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals for the first time in school history.
Harrison connected to make it 57-55 right after the Irish had taken a 55-54 lead – their first of the second half – on Ryan Humphrey’s 10-footer.
Emmanuel Wade hit a free throw with 22 seconds left for Ole Miss (27-7), then Matt Carroll answered with a foul shot for Notre Dame (20-10), which was gunning for its first regional appearance since 1987.
With 18 seconds left, Sanders missed the front end of a one-and-one, but was there to block Carroll’s attempt at a game-tying 10-footer.
Jason Flanigan’s foul shot with two seconds to go iced it for the third-seeded Rebels, who have advanced farther than any other Mississippi team after being picked last in the SEC West. They will meet No. 2 seed Arizona in the Midwest semifinals Friday in San Antonio.
Rahim Lockhart, Mississippi’s muscular 6-8 center, scored his team’s last eight points of the first half and totaled 24 points even though he kept coming out for brief rests in the second half in obvious fatigue. No other Rebel had more than seven.
Troy Murphy, Notre Dame’s two-time All-American forward, had 17 points but was just 1-of-7 in the second half. Humphrey had 15 for Notre Dame, which shot only 29 percent.
The Rebels went on an 11-2 run beginning the second half, capped by Jason Holmes’ 3-pointer and David Sanders’ layup off an inbounds pass, and took their biggest lead, 39-31. Murphy stopped the spree with a 5-footer at the 16:33 mark.
Despite missing 36 of their first 50 shots, the Irish trailed only 47-40 when Murphy’s two free throws triggered an 11-4 run capped by Humphrey’s three-point play that tied it 51-all with 5:09 to go.
Emmanuel Wade’s 3-pointer – just the second in 15 tries for the Rebels – put Ole Miss on top 54-51, then Humphrey worked inside for a bucket and the Irish trailed by only one when they took a time out with 2:33 left.
With 1:14 to go, Humphrey’s 12-footer made it 55-54 and gave the Irish their first lead since the end of the first half.
Both teams started off ice cold, with the Rebels missing seven of their first nine shots and Notre Dame going 0-for-8 until Murphy connected on a 3-pointer from the wing with 14:59 to play, making it 5-4.
That was the first of eight lead changes on consecutive possessions for the evenly matched foes from the Southeastern and Big East conferences.