lexington, ky. - Dominant almost all season and facing expectations of going unbeaten, top-ranked Kentucky looked vulnerable and very beatable against Mississippi.
Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison thwarted the Rebels' quest by scoring 26 points, including two big free throws with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in overtime to put Kentucky ahead to stay. Kentucky then withstood three final Mississippi attempts to rally before escaping with an 89-86 victory Tuesday night to win its Southeastern Conference opener and keep its hopes for a perfect season alive.
"We knew they were going to fight," Aaron Harrison said after beating the Rebels with 9-of-10 shooting from the line and five three-pointers. "The SEC is tougher than what people think, and we knew they weren't going to lay down.
"They came out and fought really hard. We had a game where we had to make big plays and we made them."
Crunch-time heroics weren't expected from Kentucky (14-0, 1-0 SEC), which had beaten Ole Miss 102 times in 115 previous meetings. The Wildcats instead got a back-and-forth battle.
Missed free throws down the stretch in overtime gave the Rebels chances to either go ahead or tie the game. But Mississippi just couldn't take advantage as LaDarius White missed on one possession and the Rebels (9-5, 0-1) lost the ball out of bounds on the next.
The Rebels had one last opportunity after Trey Lyles missed two free throws with 15.4 seconds left, but Martavious Newby's three-pointer was off.
"We never talked one time about going in and beating the No. 1 team in the country," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "I just told them to compete for 40 minutes and I certainly thought we did that. … I'm proud of the effort, proud of the fight."
Stefan Moody scored 25 points and Jarvis Summers, who missed a three at the buzzer in regulation, had 23 to lead the Rebels.