ATHENS, Ga. - Eniel Polynice scored off an inbounds pass to himself with 11.3 seconds remaining, and No. 21 Mississippi handed Georgia another tough loss, 80-76 Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs had several chances to reclaim the lead in a seesaw second half before Ole Miss (13-3, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) finished it off.
After the ball was knocked out of bounds under the basket with 14.6 seconds left, Polynice threw it in off Trey Thompkins' back, grabbed the deflection and dropped in the shot that gave the Rebels a two-possession lead.
Georgia (8-7, 0-2) finished off a stretch of three straight games against Top 25 opponents with its second loss in a row. The Bulldogs gave No. 2 Kentucky a major scare before losing 76-68 on Saturday.
Thompkins scored 21 points and the Bulldogs pounded the boards, giving themselves plenty of chances in the final two minutes. They just couldn't convert.
Down 77-76, Thompkins missed on an inside move. Jeremy Price grabbed the rebound but rimmed out the putback. After Murphy Holloway missed two free throws for Ole Miss, Ricky McPhee pumped up a 3-pointer. Another miss. Price battled inside to grab another offensive rebound, but his follow missed the mark again.
After Holloway made a free throw to stretch Ole Miss' lead to 78-76, Dustin Ware had an open 3 from straight on. The shot spun out, and the Rebels yanked down the rebound this time. Finally, they put the Bulldogs away, thanks to Polynice's daring move.
With no one open on the inbounds, he remembered a play his coaches had suggested in practice. Thompkins' back was turned, so Polynice threw the ball off the Georgia player, grabbed it inbounds and muscled up for the clinching shot.
Chris Warren led the Rebels with 12 points. Trevor Gaskins and Zach Graham added 11 apiece, while Polynice chipped in with 10 - including the most important shot of all.
Ole Miss avoided an 0-2 start in conference play, bouncing back from an 80-75 loss to rival Mississippi State at home last weekend.
Georgia scored the first five points of the game and led nearly the entire first half. Ole Miss finally took its first lead, 41-40, on Warren's 3-pointer with 1:41 left, but the Bulldogs were up 43-42 at the break.
The Rebels looked as though they might pull away, racing out to the biggest lead of the game when Reginald Buckner's free throw made it 56-49 with 13:09 remaining. But Georgia didn't fold, and it was close the rest of the way. There were eight lead changes and one tie over the final 9½ minutes.