INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The Rebels dropped a game that featured ten lead changes Friday, losing to Butler 83-76.
(Click here for box score.)
Terence Davis scored 30 points, but perimeter turnovers and foul trouble sealed the fate for Ole Miss (1-1). Despite the loss, first year head coach Kermit Davis appeared to be in positive spirits.
“We learned a lot about our team tonight,” Kermit said, “about courage and toughness.”
In a game that stayed close throughout and featured ten lead changes, as well as ten ties, Ole Miss took a late second half lead, but a late Butler run proved too much for the Rebels, as foul trouble and turnovers doomed the Rebels.
Butler went 23/27 on free throws, as well as 18/18 from the line in the second half to seal the deal for the Bulldogs. Ole Miss on the other hand struggled from the line, shooting 13/21, and that, combined with losing the turnover battle 16-10, and a few defensive lapses kept the Rebels from upsetting Butler on their home court.
Ole Miss held Butler’s National Player of the Year candidate Kamar Baldwin in check in the first half, but could not keep him off the line in the second, where the junior finished with 23 points on 5/17 shooting, but 12/12 from the line. Butler guard Paul Jorgensen torched the Rebels from the perimeter en route to 27 points on 10/17 shooting, including 6/10 from 3.
“We guarded (Baldwin) from the field great, but didn’t guard him from the line very good,” Kermit said.
The Rebels kept up with the Jorgensen onslaught with production from senior Terence Davis Jr, who scored 30 points on 10/16 shooting (6/9 from three), as well as 4 rebounds and five assists. Davis scored in a multitude of ways, including off catch and shoot opportunities, dribble drive penetration, step back jumpers, and even a few post moves–a long way from a player who struggled to find himself on the floor his first year on campus.
“I never was a top-100 kid (coming out of high school), but just being in the gym and working on my game is starting to show,” Terence said.
Breein Tyree added 17 points for the Rebels on 6/11 shooting, and hustle plays from freshman KJ Buffen (9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal) kept the Rebels in the game, but in the end, Ole Miss fell short.
“Terence Davis and Breein Tyree were good; we had some freshmen grow up and had their share of early mistakes, but we’ll be better because of it.”
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis
Ole Miss, a team predicted by the media to finish last in the SEC, played to the wire on the road with a team many consider to be a safe bet for this year’s NCAA tournament. However, Coach Davis made it clear the Rebels are not satisfied with just playing good competition close.
“Everybody in the locker room is so disappointed we lost, but we should be a better basketball team because we came to make this trip.”
Coach Kermit Davis
Ole Miss will have another chance to beat Butler next year when they visit The Pavilion. As for this year’s team, they take on Nicholls State Tuesday in Oxford before heading down to Niceville, Florida to play in the Emerald Coast Classic, a tournament the Rebels won in 2014.
Kermit Davis talks with media after the Rebels’ loss to Butler. (Video: Matt Barnthouse, The Rebel Walk)