Newby, Rebels turn away Memphis late for sixth straight win
MEMPHIS — With a comfortable lead all of a sudden shaky and Memphis trying to do whatever it could to continue to get closer, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy stopped Martavious Newby on his way to the free-throw line to ask him a question.
It was more of a challenge than an inquiry.
The Tigers were intentionally hacking Ole Miss’ senior guard, who was making less than 64 percent of his free throws coming in, after cutting the Rebels’ 16-point advantage in the second half to five with less than 2 minutes left. Kennedy approached Newby and asked rhetorically, “Are you going to take it? They’re disrespecting you man.”
The Memphis native sank his ensuing two free throws and made five more in the final 1:52 to help Ole Miss hold off the Tigers for its sixth straight win with an 85-79 victory Friday night at the FedEx Forum.
“I know me and the Memphis guys were excited to play this game,” said Newby, who turned in a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. “Probably a little too excited. We had to compose ourselves, settle down and pull out a great road win.”
Newby, Rasheed Brooks (11 points) and Tomasz Gielo (10) helped pick up the slack down the stretch for Stefan Moody, who finished with a team-high 21 points but had just five of those points on 1 of 8 shooting in the second half with Memphis sometimes throwing two defenders at the senior point guard to try to keep the ball out of his hands.
Sebastian Saiz added 11 points and 11 boards before leaving with about 6 minutes remaining after being poked in the eye, and the frontcourt depth got dicey when Marcanvis Hymon and Anthony Perez fouled out. The Rebels (9-2) led by as many as 18 and were up 60-44 with 12:13 left in the game, but Ricky Tarrant’s 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining cut it to 76-71 before Newby helped put the Tigers (7-3) away at the charity stripe.
“He’s a Memphian. He’s grown up following the Tigers,” Kennedy said of Newby. “He knew, as a senior, this is his last chance to play the Tigers in this environment. I know he had a lot of family and friends here and he wanted it so bad.”
Ole Miss connected on six of its last eight free throws after missing 13 of its first 30 attempts to keep its distance in the teams’ first meeting since 2010. Tipoff was delayed more than an hour because of a city-wide power outage in downtown Memphis.
“They were basically saying that we’re going to play you four on three and put two on (Moody),” Kennedy said. “We needed to go make some plays, and we made enough to earn a quality road win.”
Tarrant led all scorers with 29 points while freshman forward Dedric Lawson collected 21 points and 14 boards for Memphis, which shot just 34.9 percent from the field for the game and 25.9 percent in the first half.