DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Let this be a lesson to the 64 NCAA Tournament teams yet to take the floor: A quick start means a lot. A great finish is even better.
Reginald Jackson was at his best early and late to lead Hampton — just 12-17 and headed nowhere 12 days earlier — to a 74-64 wire-to-wire victory over Manhattan in a matchup of 16 seeds on Tuesday night at the First Four.
In the nightcap at the University of Dayton Arena, BYU led by 17 at half but Mississippi regrouped in the second half behind Stefan Moody, outscoring the Cougars 25-0 off turnovers in a stunning 94-90 win.
“Welcome to March Madness,” said Rebels coach Andy Kennedy after his team went from downtrodden to a second-round matchup with Xavier in exactly 20 minutes. “This was a tale of two halves.”
The Rebels (21-12) move on to a date with sixth-seeded Xavier on Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida, on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Hampton Pirates, who have won five in a row just to get to the .500 mark, now get to play mighty Kentucky, No. 1 overall, 34-0 on the year and chasing history.
“It’s a heck of a mountain, you know what I’m saying?” said coach Edward Joyner Jr. “We know that. We’re going to go and compete. And let the chips fall where they may.”
For Hampton, Quinton Chievous added 15 points and 13 rebounds before leaving with a sprained ankle in the final minutes. He’ll be a game-time decision for Kentucky, as will leading scorer and rebounder Dwight Meikle, also out with an ankle injury.
The Pirates (17-17) scored the first seven points, led by as many as 12 in the opening half and then, after Manhattan had rallied within a point, pulled away at the finish.
Shane Richards scored 17 points and Emmy Andujar 11 for the Jaspers (19-14), champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.
“You have to give Hampton credit,” said coach Steve Masiello, who played four years at Kentucky and would have been a star in Louisville had his team won. “I know we’re all caught up in whether they had a losing record, (the fact that) they’re 68th and we’re 67. But they came out and played tonight.”
Moody scored 26 points and led Mississippi’s comeback from a 17-point halftime. The Rebels trailed until Moody led a 15-2 run midway through the second half. He hit a late 3-pointer that helped finish off the tournament’s first big comeback.
Kennedy said he made a couple of minor adjustments at the half and also asked his players to prove they belonged in the tournament.
“Definitely there was a sense of urgency,” Moody said of the halftime speech. “We could have come back out and it could have gotten worse. But AK challenged us and we responded.”
M.J. Rhett added 20 points for Ole Miss, including a pair of three-point plays and a dunk during the go-ahead run.
BYU (25-10) pulled off the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history in Dayton three years ago, rallying from a 25-point first-half deficit to a 78-72 win over Iona. This time, the Cougars couldn’t hold the big lead.
“This game will sting for quite a while,” coach Dave Rose said.
Tyler Haws, BYU’s all-time leading scorer, had 33 points.
“We didn’t really have an answer for them defensively,” said Tyler Haws, who scored 33 for BYU. “And they just made plays in the second half.”
Hampton: The Pirates were the 24th team to make the NCAA Tournament field with a losing record — and became the third in four years to win a game.
Manhattan: The Jaspers fell to 3-9 in their eight trips to the NCAAs.
BYU: Haws had his fifth 30-point game of the season. He finished his career with 2,720 points.
Mississippi: The Rebels held down guard Kyle Collinsworth, who set an NCAA record with six triple-doubles this season. Collinsworth didn’t score in the first half, missing all four of his shots, and finished with eight points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.
Hampton: Mighty Kentucky awaits in Louisville on Thursday night.
Manhattan: The Jaspers lose only one of their top nine scorers. Four of the starters were juniors.
BYU: Everybody’s back for the Cougars except Haws and forward Josh Sharp.
Mississippi: Kennedy gets to prepare for another game against Xavier, an old nemesis. Kennedy was an assistant coach for four years at Cincinnati and interim coach for one season. Xavier and Cincinnati play their crosstown rivalry game each season.
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay contributed to this story.
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