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NCAA Tournament Recap: Ole Miss Comes Back Against BYU in Thriller

The second game of the NCAA Tournament could easily go down as the most exciting, offensively focused game of the whole tournament. It's a shame neither of these teams ended up in Virginia's region.

BYU's Chase Fischer after the Cougars' loss to Ole Miss in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
BYU's Chase Fischer after the Cougars' loss to Ole Miss in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Cougars came to Dayton for the First Four they completed the largest comeback in the history of the NCAA Tournament against Iona. Tonight they found themselves running away from a very capable offensive team in the first half, and then spent the second half feeling like Iona did back in 2012.

Ole Miss needed a while to figure out the Cougars' defense — lack of defense, if we're being honest. But once the Rebels found something that worked they capitalized on it. To the tune of a 62-41 second half.

Ole Miss now moves on as the 11 seed in the West and will face six seed Xavier in the Round of 64 on Thursday.

Everybody knows Tyler Haws (game high 33 points) is a scoring machine and everybody knows Kyle Collinsworth is a triple-double machine. They also know BYU is a high-scoring team and it takes more than two

So BYU's early lead came from the hand of a guy that not everybody knows: Chase Fischer. The junior shooting guard hit an early lay-up followed by back-to-back-to-back threes. His third three gave the Cougars an 11-6 lead just shy of five minutes into the game. Fischer finished with 23 points.

Just as other Cougars started getting involved on offense the Rebels, aside from Stefan Moody, went cold.

Moody scored 11 points over three minutes which kept BYU from pulling away. He didn't get much help in the first half, though. The Rebels shot 12-40 from the field in the first of which Moody accounted for four makes on nine attempts.

Skyler Halford, Anson Winder and Tyler Haws all got involved in the three point downpour for the Cougars, who hit 10 of 15 threes in the half. With just Moody trying to counter the Cougars' array of scorers BYU was able to pull ahead by 17 points. Through 20 minutes BYU held a 49-32 lead with Tyler Haws scoring 19 points and Chase Fischer adding 17.

The game looked completely different over the second 20 minutes.

Ole Miss spent the first few minutes of the second half slowly clawing their way back. An M.J. Rhett alley-oop slam with 14:28 left cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the 4:23 mark in the first. Rhett scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half as the Rebels unabashedly exploited BYU's incredibly weak interior defense.

The Rebels had six dunks in the second half. They had none in the first half and just six scores coming from the paint.

As the Rebels took it to the Cougars in the paint the Cougars continued to ignore the paint when they had the ball. It worked for them all season long, after all. With just under ten minutes to play we saw how beautiful their guard-driven system can be. Kyle Collinsworth drove into the lane and drew some defenders. He kicked the ball out to Tyler Haws in the right corner who promptly swung it to Skyler Halford on the wing. Another three point field goal, Halford? Check.

The Cougars didn't have many possessions like that in the second half, though, shooting just 40% from the field.

M.J. Rhett continued his monster second half with a fast-break and-one that pulled Ole Miss within just one possession. A minute later Stefan Moody (team high 26 points) hit a three which gave the Rebels their first lead of the game with 7:45 to play.

The frenetic pace of the game caught up to both teams as sloppy play and missed shots ran rampant. That said, there were 82 possessions for each team tonight so the points kept piling up despite exhaustion setting in.

With just under four minutes to play the first half versions of Tyler Haws and Chase Fischer made a glorious return. It wouldn't prove enough to save the Cougars but it kept this fantastic game from crawling to a boring finish.

Fischer hit a three to put the Cougars back on top with 3:53 left and then hit another with 1:23 to play which kept the Cougars within two points. Haws hit a three with five seconds remaining to keep the Cougars within a possession.

Jarvis Summers, who had an awful shooting night (5-21 FG, 1-4 FT), went to the free throw line after that Haws' three. He bricked the first, with a three point lead and three seconds to play. His second went in, with three seconds left.

Ole Miss held BYU to just 0.95 points per possession in the second half after giving up 1.26 in the first.