OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team began the regular season in spectacular fashion Saturday afternoon in The Pavilion as the Rebels drubbed Western Michigan, 90-64, in head coach Kermit Davis’ first official game as head coach.
(Click here for box score.)
Ole Miss took the court with freshman forward Blake Hinson, sophomore guard Devontae Shuler, senior guard Terence Davis, junior guard Breein Tyree and junior big man Dominik Olejniczak to open the 2018-2019 season.
Ole Miss begins with scoring barrage
The first half began with a bang as Terence Davis forced a Bronco turnover, drove the ball down the court, and slammed it home for the first points of the Coach Davis era.
Terence scored the Rebels’ first four points before 7-footer Olejniczak got in on the dunking action. Tyree and Hinson continued the scoring-barrage for Ole Miss, and at the first media timeout, six minutes into the contest, the Rebels already held a 15-4 advantage over the visiting Broncos.
The Ole Miss defense showed its teeth, picking up eight steals midway through the first half of play, while the the Rebels’ scoring assault continued, as another Terence Davis slam and a D.C. Davis long ball put Ole Miss up, 25-8, to force a Bronco timeout.
As the second media timeout came around with 8 minutes remaining in the first half, the Rebels had pushed their lead to 30-11, with Terence Davis leading the team with 14 points.
In the last two minutes of the half, Ole Miss’ aggressive defensive play helped extend the lead to 21 points going into halftime. Midway through the contest, Terence Davis led the team with 17 points on 7 for 9 shooting and the Rebels led the Broncos, 43-22.
Rebels’ scoring surge continues in the second half
Two minutes into the second half, the Broncos had narrowed the Rebels’ lead from 21 to 14. After a Kermit Davis timeout, however, Ole Miss went on a 7-0 run to give the home team a 51-32 lead.”
Over the next several minutes, the Rebels flexed their defensive muscle, not allowing a Bronco FG for four-and-a-half minutes and launching their own 12-1 scoring run. At this point, Ole Miss held a 26-point lead and the Pavilion was rocking with excited Rebel fans.
After a brief surge by Western Michigan that included two three-pointers and two free throws, Ole Miss held a 20-point lead.
The Rebels used solid defense and high-percentage shots to make seven of their next nine field goals while also holding WMU to a 2:30 scoring drought.
During those last few moments, Ole Miss extended the lead even more through foul shooting and good defensive play from newcomer Brian Halums, who finished with 6 points and 2 boards in the first win of the Coach Davis era.
“I have a lot of respect for (Western Michigan head coach) Steve (Hawkins),” Coach Davis said after the game.
“He’s been there for a long time, and they are a good fundamental team, but I think our athleticism took them out of rhythm today.“
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis on W. Michigan and its coach, Steve Hawkins
Player of the Game: Terence Davis
While 10 players were able to contribute to the Rebels’ point total, it was Terence Davis, the senior out of Southaven, who carried his team to a big lead in the first half and never let up, even when he was asked to lead from the bench.
Davis finished with 17 points and 2 rebounds in only 28 minutes on the court.
Ole Miss travels to face the Butler Bulldogs on Friday, November 16. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised on FOX Sports 2.