OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss used a strong second half to put away its opponent, and once again, it was the surge of the Rebels’ backcourt that put the team over the hump.
Deandre Burnett finished the night with 17 points, helping Ole Miss (2-0) overcome a pesky Eastern Kentucky team for the 85-75 victory Monday night inside The Pavilion. The win puts the Ole Miss program over .500 (1,283-1,282) for the first time since 1959.
Burnett went 4-for-8 from the field, with all of his four made field goals coming from 3-point range. The senior went 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.
(Click here for box score.)
Terence Davis’ 3-pointer started the momentum in the second half, followed by Markel Crawford’s jumper and Justas Furmanavicius’ layup that gave Ole Miss a 66-51 lead. The Colonels would close the gap to 10, but that was as close as EKU (1-1) would get. Burnett drilled in back-to-back 3s, and then Marcanvis Hymon had a tip-in to push the Rebels’ lead up to 76-60. Hymon finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, and three assists.
“His energy has been good,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said about Hymon. “He flies around the basket.”
Ole Miss would lead by as many as 19 points late in the second half. Davis had another productive game, finishing with 16 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes of action. Devontae Shuler finished with 12, and Markel Crawford recorded his first double-digit scoring effort of the season with 10 points.
EKU forward Nick Mayo was a problem for Ole Miss in the beginning, as he was able to have his way with the Rebels’ post players. Each time he positioned himself in the post, he scored off a step-back jumper or went up with a soft hook shot. He finished the night with a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) on 7-of-9 shooting.
“I just think he has a great tempo to his game,” Kennedy said about Mayo. “He’s a great passer. They run everything through him. The coach is smart, let’s give it to our best player to make decisions. I think nine times out of 10 he made the right decision.
“They hurt us late in the shot clock many, many times based on his decision making.”
Dedric Boyd also had 19 but shot 6 of 17 from the field.
Mayo was the primary reason EKU was competitive throughout the game, but Ole Miss found some wiggle room, thanks to its backcourt. Davis scored five straight points to give the Rebels a 37-27 lead.
The Colonels had pushed their deficit back down to seven before Crawford’s 3-point play made it a 10-point deficit, again.
Thirty-one of Ole Miss’ 40 first-half points came from its backcourt. Davis led the way with 10 points. Unlike Friday night against Louisiana-Lafayette, the Rebels shot better from 3-point range, making 10 of 22 attempts.
Ole Miss scored 18 points off of 12 EKU turnovers, and committed only eight turnovers.
Ole Miss: Outside of Hymon’s performance, the other post players scored a total of 15 points. Dominik Olejniczak finished with six points and three rebounds. Bruce Stevens added five points and four boards. Justas Furmanavicius had four points and two rebounds.
EKU: The Colonels made 26 of 51 shots from the field, including going 6-of-12 from 3. Jackson Davis finished with 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Ole Miss hosts Georgia State on Friday, while EKU hosts Kentucky State on Thursday.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)