OXFORD, Miss. – When his teammates were struggling to knock down a shot Friday night against Georgia State, Ole Miss’ Terence Davis delivered in gritty fashion. When the Rebels needed a play on defense, Davis, again, was there.
Thus far this season, the junior guard leads the Rebels in points with 61, an average of 20.3 per game.
Davis scored 24 points to lead Ole Miss (3-0) to a 77-72 victory over the Panthers (2-1) last Friday night in The Pavilion. The game was an “undercard” game for the MGM Grand Main Event, which is taking place in Las Vegas beginning tonight through Nov. 22.
Providing a spark
Davis was the spark for Ole Miss against Georgia State from the beginning and was not afraid to attack the Panthers’ 1-3-1 zone. The Southaven, Miss. native was also not afraid to be a playmaker on the defensive end, recording three blocks and pulling down five defensive rebounds (six in all).
In the first half, Davis had 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting as Ole Miss went into halftime down 44-36. Teammate Markel Crawford came on strong in the second half, scoring 11 of his 15 points to help put away Ron Hunter’s Panthers, a team many believe could be an NCAA Tournament team.
Davis converted on two of the team’s three successful three-pointers in the first half and was a perfect 3 for 3 from the free throw line. The Panthers’ smothering defense did not intimidate Davis.
“It was a pretty good zone,” Davis said.
“They were swarming to the ball. But once we got comfortable with it, we were attacking, passing, and getting shots.”
Davis kept things going in the second half, drilling back-to-back 3s to cut his team’s deficit to 44-42. Ole Miss did not take the lead for good until Breein Tyree’s 3 put the Rebels up 56-53. Two possessions later, Devontae Shuler’s jumper, plus a 3 from Davis, gave Ole Miss a 61-54 lead with 9:33 to go.
This isn’t the first time this season the Rebels have had to rally in the second half to defeat their opponent. Ole Miss was also in battles with Louisiana-Lafayette and Eastern Kentucky before pulling away for good in the second half. The Rebels were up 42-40 on the Ragin’ Cajuns before outscoring them by 20 in the second half.
The 6’4″ Davis has played in enough games to know when it’s time to turn it up—but he hopes the team can get off to better starts as the season moves along.
“Just our focus coming out,” Davis said of what has been responsible for the slow starts this season. “We just don’t have that mindset like we do in the second half.”
Davis, who went 8 of 13 from the field Friday, was having so much fun making big plays for his team that he didn’t realize he was matching Georgia State’s D’Marcus Simonds shot for shot. Simonds finished with a game-high 29 points on 10 of 22 shooting in 39 minutes of action.
When asked if he was engaged in the back-and-forth action between Simonds and himself, Davis said he was just concentrating on his own team
“Naw, I was just trying to put my team in position to win, that’s about it,” he said.
Next Up: MGM Grand Main Event
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)