Oe Miss wins in NIT

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mississippi’s Todd Abernethy was satisfied with the way he likely ended his career in Oxford.

Abernethy scored 18 points and Ole Miss held Appalachian State scoreless for nearly 6 minutes in the second half to pull away for a 73-59 win Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.

It was likely the final home game for the fourth-seeded Rebels (21-12) and it improved Ole Miss’ home record to a school-best 16-1. The Rebels, whose 21 wins are the fourth most in school history, will play at top seed Clemson on Monday.

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“It is a great way to go out,” Abernethy said. “I’m really proud of that. It’s been a great season and we’ve done a lot of great things.

“We just want to keep playing games and see how many we can win.”

The Rebels used a 2-3 zone to hold the Mountaineers scoreless for a stretch of nearly six minutes and overcome a 49-48 deficit with 10:48 remaining.

Clarence Sanders’ steal and layup with 10:15 remaining began a 19-2 run to put the Rebels ahead to stay.

Ole Miss, which won its first postseason game since reaching the round of 16 in the 2001 NCAA tournament, got 14 points and eight rebounds from Dwayne Curtis, and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Kenny Williams. Sanders scored 11.

“We had two guys who really brought good energy to the game — one was Kenny and the other was Todd,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “Todd was tremendous down the stretch, and Kenny had a lot of energy and got to a lot of balls around the goal for us.”

D.J. Thompson scored 17 points and Donte Minter added 14 points for Appalachian State (25-8), which was seeking the first Division I postseason win in school history. “It’s been a great ride this year,” Appalachian State coach Houston Fancher said. “From now on in our program, teams are going to be measured by what the team did this year.”