The Ole Miss Rebels put themselves in position to upset fifth-ranked Baylor, but Bears guard Manu Lecomte buried that idea in the final minute at Oxford, Miss.
Lecomte sank a 3-pointer from several feet beyond the top of the arc with 23 seconds left, giving Baylor the separation it needed to grab a 78-75 victory over the Rebels in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday evening at The Pavilion.
Lecomte scored 17 points to lead Baylor and forwards Jo Lual-Acuil and Johnathan Motley scored 16 points apiece and combined for 18 rebounds.
Guard Breein Tyree scored 20 points, most of which came in the second half, while forward Sebastian Saiz also scored 20, mostly in the first half.
"Breein, what a great game he played against a really good team," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "He's going against an all-league caliber point guard (Lecomte) and I thought he did a great job for us, just keeping us in it."
Ole Miss (12-9) took a 72-70 lead with 2:16 remaining, but the Rebels didn't score again until there was 0.3 left and guard Cullen Neal hit three free throws to trim the final margin.
"Three stops in a row, that's a drill that we do in practice," Lecomte said. "That's all we needed and we did it. We do a great job of just staying cool, not panicking and just keep believing in ourselves. Follow the game plan and that's it."
Baylor (20-1) led 75-72 as the game clock and shot clock ran down in the final minute. Bears forward Ishmail Wainright got the ball to Lecomte about 25 feet from the basket and he drilled the crucial trey that gave the Bears a six-point edge.
"My teammates told me on the bench, we need that shot," Lecomte said. "I appreciate them believing in me."
Baylor grabbed its first lead when Motley hit a pair of free throws with 10:25 left in the second half to put the Bears ahead 56-54. That capped Baylor's 14-2 run in which it wrested control of the game away from Ole Miss for the first time.
The Bears finished the game with a 37-27 rebounding edge and held Ole Miss to 33 points and 33-percent shooting in the second half.
"This is the second game in a row at home that we get destroyed on the glass," Kennedy said. "You're not going to win against quality teams. We give up 13 offensive rebounds. You're not going to beat the (fifth-ranked) team in the country in that regard."
The Rebels gave themselves a chance by making 22 of 23 free throws and scoring 19 points off of 17 Baylor turnovers.
Ole Miss seized momentum in the first half behind forward Saiz's 16 points and five rebounds.
Saiz hit a 3-pointer just 10 seconds into the game, helping the Rebels jump to a 13-5 lead in the first four minutes.
"(Saiz is) not a 3-point shooter," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "The first 3, it wasn't like we left him open. He bangs that in and you're like, 'Oh, snap, one of them nights, huh?' Anyway, really proud of our response."
Ole Miss led by as many as 15 when the Rebels went on an 18-4 run midway through the half. Saiz made a layup to cap the run and gave Ole Miss a 33-18 edge with 6:33 left before the break.
But Baylor fired back with a 9-0 run to keep the Rebels from running away with it.
Motley made a jumper to cut Ole Miss's lead to six points at the 4:48 mark.
Bears forwards Nuni Omot and Wainright hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, helping Baylor stay in it in the closing minutes of the first half.
Forward Justas Furmanavicius went to the basket for a layup that boosted the Rebels lead to 42-35 at halftime.
Omot came off the bench to lead Baylor with nine points in the first 20 minutes.
Ole Miss scored 12 points off 10 Bears turnovers in the first half.
-- Baylor is 4-0 in SEC/Big 12 Challenge games with previous victories over Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Georgia. Ole Miss dropped to 0-4 with two losses to Kansas State and another versus TCU prior to Saturday's defeat.
-- Baylor was the highest-ranked non-conference opponent to play at Ole Miss since the Rebels hosted No. 5 Memphis in 1984.
-- Baylor won its only previous game against Ole Miss as the Bears topped the Rebels, 132-113, in the Palmetto Classic on Dec. 29, 1970, in Charleston, S.C.