That was certainly one way to kick off the NCAA tournament.
In the nightcap of the first day of the First Four, Ole Miss erased a 17-point halftime deficit by putting up 62 second half points in a wildly entertaining 94-90 win over BYU. The Rebels will advance to face No. 6 seed Xavier on Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida.
Stefan Moody led the way for the Rebels with 26 points and five assists, scoring 15 in the second half, a stretch that included three massive threes. M.J. Rhett added 20 points before fouling out, while Jarvis Summers chipped in with 11 points and 10 assists. The difference in the second half was effort more than anything. The Rebels capitalized on their athleticism advantage in the second half, forcing turnovers and turning them into layups while obliterating the Cougars on the offensive glass.
Tyler Haws went for 30 for BYU, who was picked by many — including myself — as one of the lower-seeded teams that could do some damage in this tournament. They looked the part in the first half, hitting 10-for-15 from beyond the arc and opening up a 49-32 lead. But in the second 20 minutes, BYU could not stop the Rebels, who got to the offensive glass at will, forced turnovers and shredded the Cougars with ball-screen actions.
For BYU fans, this loss is going to sting, as the bracket had shaped up nicely for them. But for the rest of us, that game was the pinnacle of what college hoops can be. That game featured 184 points and 22 threes, which are massive numbers in a year where scoring was at a premium. We can only hope that the rest of the tournament holds such thrilling games.