OXFORD, Miss. — With one minute remaining in the game, Mississippi forward Murphy Holloway walked up to teammate Nick Williams and gave him a down low high-five.
The smack was heard throughout the tightly crammed Tad Smith Coliseum on Saturday night in Missouri's 64-49 loss to Ole Miss.
Holloway had plenty to be happy about, he scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting with six rebounds against a Missouri team missing leading-scorer Laurence Bowers, who sat out with a knee injury. The Rebels forward had little trouble finding the rim.
Confidence was key to Holloway's performance. Wednesday, Holloway and his team traveled to Knoxville, Ky., and downed Tennessee 92-74. The momentum carried into Saturday night's game against Missouri for the forward.
It didn't matter which Tigers player was guarding Holloway, he found a way to get to the rim.
Against Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi, Holloway relied on his head fakes and spin moves. If that didn't work, Holloway used his muscular 240-pound, 6-foot-7 frame to jostle Missouri players in the paint.
"If Murph can beat his man, then typically he has a chance to finish at the rim," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "And I think he did a great job finishing at the basket."
Missouri forward Tony Criswell, who returned from a hand injury, was frustrated.
"He came in with a lot of confidence, and he dribbled the ball well," Criswell said looking blankly at the fluorescent lights above. "Basically that was it."
On defense, Holloway was a high-energy force to contend with. If Holloway couldn't field the rebound, he found ways to bump the ball loose from Missouri hands, and he had four steals on the night.
"You know I was extra motivated, No. 10 team," said Holloway explaining the hustle plays. "It's more motivation. You want to beat them. They're not that good. But we had to make those plays to beat that team, try to out hustle them."
Missouri had 19 turnovers.
Holloway's performance against Missouri gave a chance for everyone in the stadium to celebrate.
Ole Miss players sitting on the bench were doing the wave with their towels as they got closer and closer to celebrating an upset over Missouri.
When the buzzer sounded, the crowd celebrated even harder. The student section seated close to the Missouri bench taunted Criswell after he fouled out.
And then they taunted the entire Missouri team and any Missouri fan in the building, chanting "Big 12 rejects" at the top of their lungs.