OXFORD, Miss. – Freshman Breein Tyree’s emergence as Ole Miss’ top floor general helps free up Deandre Burnett to be the Rebels’ scoring guard, and head coach Andy Kennedy definitely likes that combination.
Tyree’s earlier knee injury is no longer slowing him down, as evidenced by his ability to slash to the basket. And Burnett is now able to get some lift on the ankle he sprained in the Rebels’ 69-47 loss at home to Georgia on Jan. 11.
With both of his talented players at full strength, Kennedy knows he can insert them into starting lineup the way he originally planned when he recruited them.
Kennedy recruited Tyree as a point guard and Burnett as a shooting guard, but the head coach had to patiently wait before that backcourt could actually happen, as Tyree needed time to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in high school. While Tyree was in recovery mode, the Rebels’ played both Cullen Neal and Burnett at point guard.
Tyree and Burnett bring balance to Rebels
Since Tyree has assumed the role of primary ball handler, he has brought more balance to the Ole Miss offense and has been instrumental in the decrease in the team’s total turnovers the last three games. Against Texas A&M, Ole Miss (13-9, 4-5 SEC) had 13 turnovers, down four from what it committed against Tennessee (17). Against Baylor, the Rebels only turned the ball over seven times in a game where Tyree notched a career-high 20 points.
In Ole Miss’ 88-61 victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday, both Tyree and Burnett played well – and the Rebels finished with only eight turnovers. Tyree committed only one, finishing the night with seven points, four assists, three rebounds, and one steal.
Burnett was one of four Ole Miss’ players who scored in double figures, adding 16 points and four steals in 30 minutes of action. Burnett also was a perfect 7 for 7 from the free throw line.
With only nine league games to go and the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament next month, the Rebels’ newly revamped backcourt has Ole Miss clicking at the right time and Kennedy is obviously pleased.
“We brought Breein here to be a point guard…and as he’s gotten more comfortable, I think you see our turnovers go down tremendously. A lot of that is because we’re not having to have guys out of their lane. I think Breein and Dre are a good combination. That’s what they were brought here for. We’re finally able to see that come into play.”
Andy Kennedy on Tyree/Burnett combo
Rasheed Brooks’ performance against MSU
Senior forward Rasheed Brooks added 15 points on 4 of 7 shooting against Mississippi State on Tuesday night. He missed two games due to a frightening seizure he suffered during a timeout in the Rebels’ game against Tennessee.
He made his return last Saturday against No. 5 Baylor in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
After fully recovering from the seizure that kept him out of the Ole Miss lineup, Brooks’ return meant “the world to us,” according to Coach Kennedy.
“This kid (Brooks) had a life-altering experience and he’s a senior. So as he’s sitting out those games, and he’s reflecting on what has transpired, he’s also thinking ‘Man, my career is about to be over.’ In the last outing (Baylor), I threw him out there, probably wasn’t fair to anyone but he wanted to play, and I wanted to give him the opportunity. Now, we have had a couple of days of practice, he was in rhythm and made big shots for us (against Mississippi State).”
Andy Kennedy on Rasheed Brooks
Ole Miss and Vanderbilt (11-11) square off at 2:00 pm Saturday in Nashville. The game will be televised on ESPNU.