UNA’s 66-65 men’s basketball victory at Ole Miss on Tuesday was more than just another non-conference victory with ASUN play on the horizon. It was a historical afternoon for the Lions at SJB Pavilion at Ole Miss.

Before Tuesday, UNA had never beaten an SEC team in men’s basketball. That streak ended against Ole Miss, which was 4-0 lifetime against the Lions before Tuesday.

UNA found a way to win in a back-and-forth game that featured 17 lead changes, with four of those coming in the final minute. Junior guard K.J. Johnson had a pair of baskets in the final minute. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Johnson hit a jumper with 50 seconds left and countered an Ole Miss basket with a bucket in the lane with 15 seconds remaining.

His second basket gave UNA a 66-65 lead. Ole Miss’ DaeShun Ruffin missed a contested layup at the other end and Johnson grabbed the rebound. UNA’s Daniel Ortiz was fouled with one second remaining. He missed the free throw but Ole Miss was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.

Ortiz and Jacari Lane combined for 41 UNA points. Ortiz, a 6-foot sophomore from Shreveport, Louisiana, had 22 points and hit six 3-pointers. At one point in the second half, he hit three consecutive 3-pointers. Lane, a 6-foot freshman from Lee High in Huntsville, had 19 points and shared team-high honors with five assists. Johnson also had 11 points, six rebounds.

The Lions improved to 7-5 on the season with non-conference games. They close the non-conference portion of the schedule on Wednesday at 3 p.m. against visiting Williams Baptist. UNA begins ASUN play on December 30 at Jacksonville State.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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