NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Beating a team three times in one season is a difficult task to accomplish, especially if that one opponent always plays its best against you.
Just like the first two meetings earlier this season, Missouri played its hardest against Ole Miss Thursday night in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. In the third meeting, though, the Rebels shook off the Tigers’ 3-point shooting, thanks to their own solid offensive performance.
Four Rebels scored in double figures, helping Ole Miss (20-12) defeat Missouri, 86-74, to advance to Friday night’s quarterfinals round of Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Rebels will meet No. 4 seed Arkansas at approximately 8:00 p.m. (CT).
Deandre Burnett led the Rebels with 23 points, and Sebastian Saiz notched his 20th double-double of the season with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Davis added 19 and Tyree provided 11 in the victory.
Twenty wins for the Rebels
The victory was the 20th of the season for Ole Miss. Under head coach Andy Kennedy, the Rebels now have 20 wins for the ninth time in 11 seasons. Coach Kennedy joins Billy Donovan, Joe B. Hall, Nolan Richardson and Tubby Smith as the only coaches in SEC history to accomplish that feat. (Ole Miss had just seven 20-win seasons in the 96 seasons before Kennedy’s arrival.)
“I’m proud of my guys. It’s good to have Dre (Deandre Burnett) back,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said after the game.
“We live to fight another day.”
Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss head coach
The Tigers were focused and competitive in the first half, but neither existed in the second half as Mizzou could only watch as Ole Miss opened up the second half with a dunk by Terence Davis, and two 3s by Breein Tyree.
Davis’ layup at the 14:27 mark made it 61-46, and Missouri (8-24) simply didn’t have anything left in the tank to counter the Rebels’ offense.
Burnett’s left knee injury, suffered against Alabama, forced him to miss the team’s regular season finale against South Carolina last Saturday; however, it did not cause him to miss the team’s second-round matchup against Missouri, a team he torched for 28 points when the two programs met in Oxford on Feb. 25.
Burnett, who made four of five shots from 3-point range, was pleased with his team’s performance.
“Those guys (Missouri) play hard, guarded me the same way other teams guard me. It was just a good night for me shooting the ball. I felt good and my teammates did a good job of giving me the ball in transition.”
Rebels start strong
Burnett came out as a force, single-handily carrying the Ole Miss offense on his shoulders. He was a perfect 6 for 6 from the field, including a perfect 4 for 4 from 3 in the first half. He also added two assists and two rebounds.
Despite Burnett’s shooting clinic, he also had support from his teammates.
Rasheed Brooks drained a 3 from the right wing, then Cullen Neal and Tyree followed with long-range scores of their own during a 9-0 run that gave the Rebels the 39-28 lead at the 2:41 of the first half. Terence Phillips had cut the Tigers’ deficit to 41-32 but Neal’s 3, plus two foul shots, pushed Ole Miss’ lead up to 44-32.
The Rebels went into halftime up 46-36, thanks to their steady offense. Missouri was keeping up at one time, with its 3-point shooting (6 of 14) but went 3 for 11 in the final 7:01, and had three turnovers.
During that same time frame, Ole Miss build its lead to double figures for the first time of the game during a short 7-0 run.
Neal’s two foul shots gave the Rebels the double-digit lead. He finished with nine points on the night.
Missed shots and fouls plague the Tigers
In the two regular season meetings, the Tigers used their 3-point shooting to give Ole Miss a fight. Missouri made 10 3s in each of those both meetings and finished Thursday night with 12 of 29 attempts from deep. But, overall, the Tigers’ offense wasn’t nearly strong enough to keep up with the Rebels.
Missouri made just 26 of 61 shots from the field, and watched as three players (Phillips, Jordan Geist, and Russell Woods) fouled out. Jordan Barnett, Kevin Puryear, and Phillips each had 15 points. Cullen Vanleer scored 10.
“We hung in. We fouled too much,” said Kim Anderson, who coached his final game for the Tigers after being informed before the start of the tournament that the program will moved in another direction.
“They shot 47 free throws, and we shot 13. Obviously, you can’t foul that many times and expect to win a game.”
Kim Anderson, Missouri head coach
Former Rebel guard named Allstate SEC Legend
Former Rebel guard Jason Harrison was presented with a plaque at halftime for being named to the 2017 Allstate SEC Legend class. During his career at Ole Miss from 1999-2002, Harrison earned All-SEC honors twice and helped lead the Rebels to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of SEC West titles.
The 5-foot-5 guard hit one of the most memorable shots in Ole Miss history – a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left – to give Ole Miss a victory over Notre Dame in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, sending Ole Miss to the school’s first Sweet 16. Harrison still ranks in the top 10 in school history in assists, free throw percentage, and wins.
Missouri: Kevin Puryear mentioned the Tigers’ locker room was emotional, since Anderson will no longer be the head coach of the program moving forward. Puryear also said the players aren’t happy about the coaching change.
“We have a great deal of love for him. He has and always will have our best interest. But that’s all I can really say about it. It’s never easy saying goodbye.”
Kevin Puryear on firing of head coach Kim Anderson
- The Rebels beat the Tigers in four major categories Thursday night: rebounds (40-32), second-chance points (16-11), bench points (32-24), and points in the paint (28-18).
- Ole Miss made 31 of 47 shots from the free throw line, and 23 of 55 from the floor.
- The Rebels have now beaten 11 straight opponents with a Tiger mascot.
- Sebastian Saiz recorded his 29th career double-double in the win Thursday. He now has 20 double-doubles this season, which leads the SEC and ranks 5th nationally. Saiz is the only player in the SEC this season who is averaging a double-double.
Missouri’s season is over and it now has to look for Anderson’s replacement.
Ole Miss will play Arkansas on Friday night at approximately 8:00 p.m. (CT). The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels, 98-80, in the only meeting between the two teams this season. The Rebels and Razorbacks have never faced one another in the SEC Tournament.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)