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Dayton, Ohio • That improved defense and inside game that helped the BYU Cougars go on a remarkable late-season run left at the worst possible time for coach Dave Rose's club Tuesday night.

In an NCAA Tournament First Four game, the Cougars went soft on defense, got conservative offensively, and blew a 17-point halftime lead at University of Dayton Arena. Scoring an amazing 62 points in the second half, the Ole Miss Rebels claimed a 94-90 victory in front of 12,124 and will move on to face No. 6 seed Xavier on Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla.

"Welcome to March Madness," said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy.

"This game will sting for quite awhile," said BYU coach Dave Rose.

The Cougars (25-10) will return to Provo wondering what might have been. They shot 60 percent in the first half, held Ole Miss to 30 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, and took a 49-32 lead at the break.

The Rebels outscored BYU 25-0 on turnovers, however, and dominated the final 20 minutes.

"In the long run, it was the turnovers that were probably the biggest difference in the game," Rose said.

The Cougars had 15 giveaways, Ole Miss seven.

Now BYU knows how Iona must have felt. The Cougars overcame a 25-point deficit three years ago on this same floor to beat the Gaels, but this time crumbled in much the same way Iona did then.

Tyler Haws led BYU with 33 points on 13 of 23 shooting, but 19 of those came in the first half when little went wrong.

"He made hard, hard, hard shots," Kennedy said

In the second half, the Rebels turned up the defensive pressure to get several easy buckets on the other end, and the Cougars went cold. BYU shot 40 percent in the second half, much as it did when it blew a 16-point halftime lead at Pepperdine in January before turning its season around.

"I feel for our guys, because we played well enough to win. We just couldn't finish them off," Rose said.

Ole Miss outscored the Cougars 40-19 in the first 13 minutes of the second half, and got 26 points from Stefan Moody.

The Rebs took a 72-68 lead on a dunk by M.J. Rhett with 7:11 remaining, and the Cougars were reeling, their first-half mojo completely gone.

Chase Fischer hit a 3-pointer with 3:52 left to give BYU an 80-78 lead, but the Rebels went on a 9-2 run to regain control. Another Fischer 3-pointer cut Ole Miss' lead to 87-85 with 1:20 left, but Rhett hit a jumper with a minute left to right the Rebels. Haws' final basket of his career was a 3-pointer with four seconds left to cut the deficit to three, but Jarvis Summers made a free throw to seal the win for Ole Miss.

"I think we did enough offensively to win the game," Haws said.

Defensively, however, the Cougars gave up too many easy buckets. The Rebels had six dunks in the second half.

The Cougars made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, but were 5 of 14 in the second half.

Fischer was 4 of 6 from long range in the first half en route to 17 points. He finished with 23, while Skyler Halford added 11. Kyle Collinsworth suffered a knee stinger and played only 12 minutes in the first half without scoring. He finished with eight points, 10 assists and seven rebounds on 1 of 7 shooting.

"This one will sting for a long time," Haws said. "It will be hard to take this jersey off for the last time."

A task made more difficult by the way the Cougars played in the final 20 minutes.

Twitter: @drewjay —

Mississippi 94, BYU 90

BYU (25-10)

Fischer 7-14 3-4 23, Haws 13-23 2-3 33, Collinsworth 1-7 6-9 8, Sharp 0-0 0-0 0, Kaufusi 1-1 4-5 6, Andrus 0-1 2-2 2, Toolson 0-0 0-0 0, Winder 1-1 0-0 3, Halford 4-9 0-0 11, Bartley IV 1-2 2-4 4, Worthington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-58 19-27 90.


Newby 2-3 5-6 10, Rhett 9-11 2-2 20, Saiz 3-5 4-5 10, Summers 5-21 1-4 11, Moody 10-18 1-1 26, Smith 0-3 0-0 0, White 4-11 1-2 10, Perez 1-3 0-0 2, Coleby 1-3 1-2 3, Jones 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 36-80 15-23 94.

Halftime—BYU 49-32. 3-Point Goals—BYU 15-29 (Fischer 6-12, Haws 5-9, Halford 3-6, Winder 1-1, Bartley IV 0-1), Mississippi 7-23 (Moody 5-9, Newby 1-2, White 1-6, Perez 0-1, Smith 0-2, Summers 0-3). Fouled Out—Kaufusi, Rhett. Rebounds—BYU 39 (Collinsworth 7), Mississippi 43 (Newby, Saiz 9). Assists—BYU 22 (Collinsworth 10), Mississippi 24 (Summers 10). Total Fouls—BYU 23, Mississippi 21. A—12,124.