UNA upsets Ole Miss

Lions first Men’s basketball victory over SEC opponent in program history
The UNA Lions Men's basketball team defeated Ole Miss 66-65 Tuesday December 20th.
The UNA Lions Men's basketball team defeated Ole Miss 66-65 Tuesday December 20th.(UNA Athletics)
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 10:43 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Daniel Ortiz and Jacari Lane combined for 41 points to lead the University of North Alabama men’s basketball team to a 66-65 win at Ole Miss on Tuesday. The win is the first over an SEC opponent in program history and gives the Lions a 7-5 record on the season.

The game featured 17 lead changes, including four in the final minute of play. A jumper from the left side by KJ Johnson gave UNA a 64-63 lead with 49.2 seconds remaining. After the Rebels answered with a basket on the ensuing possession, Johnson drove the lane and scored with 12.6 seconds to play.

With the Lions clinging to the 66-65 lead, Johnson came up with a defensive rebound with 2.8 seconds remaining. UNA inbounded the ball and Ortiz was immediately fouled. He missed a free throw with 1.9 seconds on the clock but the Rebels missed a desperation shot from near midcourt to secure the win for the Lions.

North Alabama trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half but managed to stay within striking distance. Ole Miss scored the first seven points of the game and later held a 26-16 lead at the 6:02 mark of the first half.

The Lions responded with a 12-2 run of their own, capped by a three-point basket from Ortiz that tied the game at 28-28 with 2:31 remaining. Neither team led by more than five the rest of the game.

UNA trailed by five before a jumper at the first-half buzzer by Ortiz made the score 33-36 at the break.

Ortiz’ hot streak continued into the second half. The sophomore from Shreveport, La., connected on three straight three-pointers as the Lions grabbed a 43-38 lead early in the period.

The Lions maintained the lead until a free throw put the home team ahead 51-50 at the 7:45 mark. UNA went back ahead 52-51 on a transition basket by Lane and the two teams traded leads 11 more times down the stretch.

Ortiz led all scorers with 22 points. He also tied a career-high with six made three-point baskets. Lane added a career-high 19 points while Johnson had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Matthe Murrell led Ole Miss (8-4) with 16 points on the day.

UNA will host Williams Baptist in a rescheduled game on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. at Flowers Hall.