Rebels headed to Big Apple
Chris Warren scored five of his 22 points during a 9-0 second half run Wednesday night and Mississippi beat Virginia Tech 81-72 in the NIT quarterfinals to earn a trip to Madison Square Garden in New York.
Ole Miss (24-10) led 51-49 with 10-49 to play before Warren’s layup sparked the burst. He later added a 3-pointer, Eniel Polynice hit a jumper and Kenny Williams made a layup to cap the spurt, which gave the Rebels a 60-49 led with 8:22 to play.
The Hokies (21-14), who got 23 points from Deron Washington in the final game of his college career, never got closer than seven thereafter in a game that wasn’t really as close as the score. Virginia Tech was outrebounded 46-23 and shot under 40 percent.
Dwayne Curtis added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Rebels, Williams had 10 points and 11 rebounds and David Huertas finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Mississippi shot better than 49 percent and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
A.D. Vassallo scored 16 points for the Hokies, but missed 15 of his 21 field goal tries, and Malcolm Delaney scored 14. Vassallo had seven assists and Delaney five.
The Rebels led 33-31 at halftime and never trailed again. Virginia Tech drew even at 49 with 12 minutes left on J.T. Thompson’s layup, but Huertas hit one of his four 3-pointers 14 seconds later and the Hokies eventually fell as many as 13 points down.
Virginia Tech, which blew out UAB on Monday night, 75-49, started the same way against Mississippi, scoring 12 of the first 15 points to fire up the crowd of 9,615.
But the Rebels responded quickly with an 18-5 run and led 21-17 after 11:30.
Mississippi will face the Ohio State in the semifinals Tuesday night. In the other semifinal, Massachusetts will play Florida.