OXFORD, Miss. -- For most basketball players, shooting off-balance, 25-foot 3-pointers isn't a particularly good idea.
One of the few exceptions? Chris Warren.
Warren hit difficult back-to-back 3-pointers -- including one over a defender while fading away -- during a second-half surge that led Mississippi to an 86-81 victory over previously unbeaten Southern Miss on Saturday night.
It's certainly not the first time Warren, a skinny 5-foot-10 senior, has taken over a game. He needs just 18 points to become only the 11th player in school history with 1,500 career points. But fellow guard Nick Williams said the prolific scoring displays never fail to amaze.
"You would think I wouldn't be surprised," Williams said. "But I am every time. He's always the guy with the biggest heart and makes the biggest shots. We need him."
The Rebels, who were coming off an 86-73 road loss to Miami on Tuesday, nearly let another one slip away. They led 44-34 at halftime thanks to a 10-0 run early in the game, but Southern Miss closed the gap to 47-46 just three minutes into the second half.
Southern Miss led 71-65 with 7:30 remaining, but Ole Miss went on a 15-5 run to take an 80-76 lead just four minutes later. The rally was punctuated by Warren's back-to-back 3-pointers, which turned a four-point deficit into a two-point lead and got the announced crowd of 5,101 at Tad Smith Coliseum back into the game.
"That was a point in time where we needed a big play," said Warren, who scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. "I felt like I had a rhythm, so I shot it twice and it went in."
Zach Graham added 16 points -- including hitting all eight of his free-throw attempts -- while Williams scored 13 and Dundrecous Nelson 11. The Rebels' bench was productive all night -- outscoring USM's reserves 34-9.
With the frontcourt in foul trouble for a large chunk of the game, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy decided to go small, often using four guards on the floor. The result was a 38-30 rebounding deficit, but the Rebels made up for that by spacing the floor and getting good shots for the guards -- especially Warren.
He made 4 of 9 from 3-point range and hit all six of his free throws.
Ole Miss was 8 for 21 from 3-point range (38.1 percent). The Rebels also used a full-court pressure that rattled the Golden Eagles, forcing them into 22 turnovers.
USM coach Larry Eustachy was visibly frustrated with the officiating by the end of the game, stomping around the court and barking a few choice words. After the game, he was much more calm, and said any tough breaks were exacerbated by his team's lack of execution.
"Things just didn't go our way at the end, which seems to happen every time we come here," Eustachy said. "But we'll bounce back and pick it up on Monday."
Southern Miss shot 50 percent from the field (25 of 50), including 61.5 percent in the second half (16 of 26) to get back into the game. D.J. Newbill had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.