No. 9 Kentucky falls to Mississippi 73-65



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OXFORD, Mississippi — Even after struggling most of the night, Kentucky had a chance to steal a road victory against Mississippi.

But the Wildcats' couldn't overcome a shaky defense that allowed the Rebels easy shots when it mattered most.

Ole Miss beat No. 9 Kentucky 73-65 on Thursday to snap a four-game losing streak. The Wildcats have now lost two of three games going into a home game against No. 18 Tennessee on Monday.

"I thought they came out with much more passion and intensity," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "I'm sure they felt like their backs were against the wall after getting beat so bad on Monday night. They came out swinging and we didn't handle it very well.

"Give them all the credit, they played great."

Kentucky (14-3, 3-3) trailed 59-47 early in the fourth quarter, but cut the advantage to 61-57 with 3:46 remaining. Ole Miss' Shandricka Sessom responded by hitting a layup while being fouled and then made the free throw to give the Rebels a 64-57 advantage.

The Rebels made a few more easy layups in the final minutes to seal the victory.

"What a great win for our program," Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. "To get a win over a top 10 team just speaks volumes about where we're going with the process of what we're doing with this program."

Shequila Joseph tied a career-high with 21 points while A'Queen Hayes and Sessom added 14 each. The Rebels won for the first time since a Jan. 3 against Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss (10-9, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) made 10 3-pointers and forced 21 Kentucky turnovers.

Joseph came into the game averaging just 5.7 points per game, but was hot from the opening tip. She was 8 of 12 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

"It's probably her best night since she's been at Ole Miss," Insell said.

Makayla Epps led the Wildcats with 22 points, but they never looked comfortable against the Ole Miss defense.

"We disrupted Kentucky all night," Insell said. "They're a great basketball team ... but I know this, we did a great job disrupting them, getting them out of their sets and making them play one-on-one basketball.

Ole Miss controlled the game from the outset, taking the lead for good early in the first quarter when Bretta Hart hit a layup to make it 8-7.

Kentucky kept it close throughout the first half, but could never quite overtake the Rebels, who hit several timely 3-pointers to keep the Wildcats behind. Ole Miss led 35-31 at halftime.

It was an unexpected victory for Ole Miss, which had lost four straight and was getting crushed in the process. They were coming off a 79-51 loss to No. 10 Mississippi State on Monday and had lost all four games by at least 19 points.

But the Rebels gained confidence from the Joseph's hot shooting and Kentucky's final rally fell short.

"Our defense was poor all night long and that's my fault," Mitchell said. "I should get them more prepared."

It was the first win for Ole Miss in its new basketball home called The Pavilion. The Rebels moved into the building earlier this month.

TIP-INS:

Kentucky: The Wildcats have been in the AP's national rankings for 125 consecutive weeks.

Mississippi: Insell was an assistant under Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell for five seasons before coming to Oxford. He now has a 2-2 record against his former employer.

UP NEXT:

Ole Miss travels to face No. 2 South Carolina on Saturday.

Kentucky hosts No. 18 Tennessee on Monday.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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