A battle in the Magnolia State

OXFORD, Miss. — Senior Ashley McCray scored a season-best 14 points and Arkansas had four players in double figures but couldn’t overcome the Ole Miss jinx in Oxford, Miss., Sunday.

The Razorbacks (8-8, 0-3 SEC) fell for the 13th consecutive time in Oxford to the Rebels (11-5, 2-1 SEC), 86-71.

McCray had 14 points as did senior Charity Ford and sophomore Lyndsay Harris in the game. Sophomore Ashley Daniels added 11 points and led the team with nine rebounds.

“We got it close but their experienced guards maintained their composure,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “We got better today. I’m not sure the score indicates that but we did. I was pleased to score 71 against the zone. Today was a day when we didn’t play as well on the defensive end of the floor but we played well offensively.

“I was pleased with the balanced scoring today,” Collen continued. “Ashley (McCray) can be a difference-maker for us and she was good today.”

Arkansas finished the contest shooting 46.2 percent from the floor, a season-best in SEC play, but Ole Miss bettered that with a 52.5 percent performance behind 26 points from senior Bianca Thomas. Thomas led four Rebels in double-figures.

The game began with a sprinter’s pace with a lot of quick scoring by both teams after the tip.

The tide turned against Arkansas at the mid-point of the first half when the Rebels went on a 16-9 run putting the Razorbacks down by double-digits. The deficit was one Arkansas would battle the remainder of the half finishing down 10, 33-43, at the break.

Harris picked up two quick fouls and sat much of the opening period with six points in 12 minutes of play. The Razorbacks committed nine first-half fouls and Ole Miss converted at the charity stripe going 8-for-10.

McCray was back in the starting lineup for the first time in SEC play this year and scored six tough points in the first half and had two rebounds in nine minutes.

Arkansas shot around 30 percent in the first two conference games of the season but finished the half shooting 45.2 percent on a 14-for-31 start but the Razorback defense allowed the Rebels to shoot 50 percent with a 15-of-30 performance that included five three-pointers.

Ford scored nine while sophomore C’eira Ricketts pulled in seven boards in the first frame. Ole Miss led by as many as 15 but a late 7-2 run by the Razorbacks closed the gap at the break.

Arkansas struggled in the second half to overcome the Ole Miss led but it was not for lack of effort. The Razorbacks continued to shoot well approaching 50 percent from the floor with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Arkansas closed the gap to five but a layup that got behind the defense and a tough foul again saw the Rebel lead swell.

But Arkansas wouldn’t quit and cut the lead to four, 55-59, on offensive rebound and basket from Ford. Arkansas would cut the lead to two, 60-62, with 4:35 to play but Ole Miss continued to have a hot hand from the floor stretching the margin to double-figures as time ran out.

Arkansas returns to Fayetteville hosting Mississippi State Jan. 14 and Georgia Jan. 17 as SEC action continues. Tickets for those games are available by calling the Razorback Ticket Center and on-line.

Download: Arkansas-Ole Miss.pdf