Ole Miss avoided a scare Tuesday night and grabbed the nickname “Comeback Kids” in the process, en route to defeating BYU 94-90 in a play-in game of the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to defeat the Cougars inside the University of Dayton Arena and will now face Xavier in a West Region matchup.
Against BYU, six Rebels scored in double figures. Junior G Stefan Moody led the way with 26 points and set an Ole Miss school record in the NCAA Tournament in the process. Fifteen of his 26 points came in the second half.
Despite fouling out late in the second half, senior Forward M.J. Rhett scored a career-high 20 points, with 14 of those coming in the second half.
After the win, Ole Miss immediately departed for Jacksonville, Florida to take on the sixth-seeded Xavier Musketeers, who finished the regular season 21-13 and 9-9 in the Big East Conference.
Ole Miss is 5-3 all-time against current Big East teams, including a win over the Creighton Blue Jays earlier this season. Rebels coach Andy Kennedy is 0-1 against the Musketeers, falling to Xavier in his lone season as the head coach at the University of Cincinnati.
The Musketeers are led by Matt Stainbrook, Trevon Bluiett, and Myles Davis. All three players are averaging in double figures, with Stainbrook leading the way with 12 points per game. Bluiett and Davis average 11.7 and 10.7 points per contest, respectively. Up until now, Xavier has shot 47 percent from the field and allowed its opponents to shoot 44 percent.
In Ole Miss’ comeback victory over the Cougars, the Rebels shot 60 percent in the second half and outscored BYU 62-41. Ole Miss finished the game shooting 45 percent from the field. The Rebels are 18-3 this season when they shoot 40 percent or better. (The three losses were at Dayton, at No. 1 Kentucky, and versus Vanderbilt.)
Rebels and Musketeers in the Big Dance
Ole Miss returns to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history and has an all-time record of 5-7 in the Big Dance. The Rebels’ last appearance in the NCAA Tournament came in 2013. That year, Marshall Henderson and the No. 12-seeded Rebels knocked off No. 5 Wisconsin before falling to No. 13 LaSalle in the third round of the West Region in Kansas City.
The Musketeers are making their 25th appearance in the tournament and have a record of 21-24.
Where to watch or listen to the game
Television: TBS, Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), Steve Lappas (analyst), Jamie Erdahl (sideline)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network, David Kellum (play-by-play), Keith Carter (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93, XM 203
Live Video: NCAA.com
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
(Feature image courtesy of Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)