Jorge Gutierrez scored 25 points and made two free throws with 14.8 seconds left to help California hold off Mississippi, 77-74, in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night in Berkeley, Calif.
Allen Crabbe had 20 points, and Harper Kamp added 11 – including a key basket down the stretch, one day after receiving IV treatments due to the flu.
California (18-14), which played without starting center Markhuri Sanders-Frison (dislocated shoulder), advanced to play at top-seeded Colorado on Friday. The Buffaloes beat Texas Southern, 88-74, earlier.
Chris Warren scored 23 points for Ole Miss (20-14) and became the fourth player in Southeastern Conference history to have 2,000 points and 400 assists in his career. Zach Graham added 17 points.
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Ole Miss, which lost in the semifinals of the NIT a year ago, closed to 73-72 after Warren’s driving layup with 49.8 seconds left. After Kamp made a 13-foot jumper for Cal, Mississippi’s Terrance Henry sank two free throws before Gutierrez sealed the win for the Bears.
Henry’s desperation 3-pointer bounced off the front of the rim and bounced away as time expired.
Gutierrez made his first five shots from the floor and had 17 points in the first half. Crabbe then led Cal’s charge in the second half when the Bears held off the Rebels down the stretch.
“If (Gutierrez) doesn’t make some plays, who knows?” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Jorge was ready to play. If he didn’t, we were going to struggle and I think he knew that.”
Freshman Richard Solomon, who started in place of Sanders-Frison, went to the bench six minutes into the game with a bloody nose after getting hit in the face. Solomon later returned and finished with five points while tying his season-high of 10 rebounds.
Ole Miss trailed by eight points early in the second half but crept back into the game behind Warren and Henry.
“They knocked in rhythm shots early and then it became contagious,” Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. “I thought our guys did a good job of weathering that and getting back in the game. Unfortunately we’ve been on this side more times than we would like to admit.”
Warren made a 3-pointer early in the first half to join LSU’s Pete Maravich, Tennessee’s Allan Houston and Georgia’s Litterial Green as the only players in SEC history with 2,000 points and 400 assists.
At Colorado 88, Texas Southern 74: Alec Burks had 27 points and seven rebounds, and Cory Higgins scored 25 points as the top-seeded Buffaloes beat the Tigers.
Freshman Andre Roberson added 15 points and eight rebounds for Colorado (22-13), which faces Cal on Friday night in Boulder.
Harrison Smith had 24 points to lead Texas Southern (19-13).
Joevan Catron’s 24 points and 12 rebounds helped Oregon (17-17) to a 68-59 win over Weber State (18-14) in Eugene, Ore., in the first round of the CBI. Five San Francisco players scored in double figures as the Dons (18-14) beat Idaho, 81-73, in the first round of the CIT.
NEXT FOR WSU
NIT SECOND ROUND
Oklahoma State (20-13) at Washington State (20-12), 8:30 p.m. Monday
OTHER NIT SCORES WEDNESDAY
Wichita State 76, Nebraska 49
Miami (Fla.) 85, Florida Atlantic 62
Northwestern 70, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 61
Virginia Tech 79, Bethune-Cookman 54
Colorado 88, Texas Southern 74
California 77, Mississippi 74