OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team defeated Missouri, 75-65, in The Pavilion Saturday afternoon for the Rebels’ fourth straight victory. The win is another step for Ole Miss (18-7, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) on its quest to secure a high seed in the SEC tournament this coming March and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
(Click here for box score.)
Ole Miss controlled the game from the tipoff to the final buzzer, leading the Tigers for 36:30 of the contest. And other than the offensive boards where the Tigers crushed the Rebels, 37-21, Ole Miss was on cruise control for most of the game.
Bruce Stevens scored a team-high 17 points, while K.J. Buffen and Breein Tyree each notched 14 points. Nine of Tyree’s points came in the second half.
Devontae Shuler finished with 12 to round out the top scorers for the Rebels.
Despite Ole Miss reaching a lead as high as 19 points, Missouri was able to cut that to seven in the second half as the Tigers’ Jordan Geist essentially put the visiting team on his shoulders, scoring 19 of his 23 points in the last 20 minutes.
Fortunately for the Rebels, Stevens was a force in the second half, compiling 12 of his 17 in the final frame and also adding 4 rebounds in his 22 minutes of play.
“It makes us more of a worthy SEC team, and a team that can help play better in March because of that,” head coach Kermit Davis said of having Bruce Stevens playing well.
“He’s got a physical presence, and he can stretch it and go out and make a three. He was 3 of 7 from three today. I thought every one of his shots, maybe only one was not a good shot, but he gave us a good presence. There are a lot of conventional fives out there, centers, and he’s a hard matchup if he goes 35 to 39 percent from three.“
Coach Kermit Davis on Bruce Stevens’ play
The Ole Miss defense stepped up early in the game and ultimately forced Missouri into a total of 25 turnovers, 15 of which came in the first 20 minutes of play. The Rebels scored 32 of their 75 points on turnovers, alone, and also had a heck of a game from the charity stripe—going 20 for 23 on the afternoon (87%).
Coach Davis was asked about his team’s confidence during this four-game win streak.
“Confidence comes from doing hard things over, over, and over again,” Coach Davis said. “I think you get that when you go to practice, and being able to do hard things over and over in practice. It lends you to the tough situations when you can play. I just think that is what happened. When you win on the road, it breeds unbelievable confidence. We are 4-2 on the road in the SEC. When TD (Terence Davis) starts taking the team, then they just know we can go to any environment and play, and that is a good thing. We are not there yet, but you are exactly right, our team is playing and thinking that we are going to win the game late.”
- Ole Miss beat Missouri for the 10th time in the last 11 matchups and now leads the all-time series 11-2.
- Kermit Davis became the second coach in school history to win 18 of his first 25 games as head coach.
- Ole Miss moved to 18-7, the best record through 25 games since going 19-6 during the 2012-13 season (SEC Tournament champions).
- The Rebels improved to 8-4 in SEC play for first time since 2014-15 season, the last time they made the NCAA Tournament.
- Ole Miss increased its winning streak to four games; during the streak, the Rebels are averaging 11.3 steals per game and 23.5 points off turnovers.
- Ole Miss forced 25 Missouri turnovers, the most forced in a game since causing 25 versus Bradley (Nov. 28, 2015).
- The Rebels went 20 of 23 (87.0 percent) from the free throw line, shooting over 85.0 percent for the ninth time this season.
- With 17 points from Bruce Stevens and 14 points by KJ Buffen, Ole Miss got 31 points from its bench; Stevens tied his season high in points, while Buffen posted career highs in assists (4) and steals (3).
- Entering the game ranked fourth in the SEC in steals, Devontae Shuler tallied a career-high five steals on the afternoon.
- During a media timeout, the family of the late Justin Reed was recognized; Reed is being honored as Ole Miss’ 2019 SEC Legend. The Rebels also wore warmups with Reed’s number 23.
- The Ole Miss coaching staff wore puzzle piece lapel pins during the game as part of Coaches Powering Forward for Autism this weekend, joining coaches around the country in autism awareness.
(Tip-Ins are courtesy of Ole Miss Men’s Basketball.)
Ole Miss will travel to Columbia for a Tuesday matchup with the Gamecocks. South Carolina used a solid second half to defeat Texas A&M, 84-77, Saturday afternoon.
The Gamecocks (13-12 overall) and Rebels are tied at 8-4 in league play. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (CT), and the contest will be televised on the SEC Network.
Postgame Press Conference
Breein Tyree and Bruce Stevens talk with media after the game. (Video: Archie Breland, The Rebel Walk)
Head coach Kermit Davis conducted his postgame press conference after the Rebels’ win over Missouri: