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Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Mississippi guard Jarvis Summers (32) shoots over Auburn guard Josh Wallace (11) and forward Adrian Forbes (45) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Thursday, March 8, 2012.

NEW ORLEANS — Nick Williams scored a career-high 22 points, and Mississippi defeated Auburn 68-54 in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

Williams, whose previous career-high was 21, was 9-of-14 shooting and drained four 3-pointers. Murphy Holloway added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Rebels (19-12), who have won four straight and might be able to make a case for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they upset Tennessee in their second-round game Friday night.

Frankie Sullivan scored 15 points for Auburn (15-16), which lost for the fourth time in five games on the same day the NCAA acknowledged that federal investigators are looking into point-shaving allegations against suspended Tigers guard Varez Ward.