OXFORD, Miss. – From here on out, any win is a big win for Ole Miss men’s basketball—and none is bigger, at least at this point, than the Rebels’ 72-71 victory over Georgia Saturday afternoon. Ole Miss improves to 19-8 overall and 9-5 in Southeastern Conference play.
Georgia sits outside of the Top-100 in the NET Rankings and a defeat at home to the Dawgs would’ve hurt. It might not have been a knockout—but it would definitely have been a body blow. Fortunately, the Rebels dug deep, played physical basketball and defeated Georgia.
In the first half, it was obvious how much emphasis the coaching staff had placed on the physical play that had been lacking in the South Carolina loss last week.
After the first 20 minutes of play, Ole Miss had a 20-18 lead on the glass and had 8 players in the scoring column. Georgia notched six more attempts at the free throw line in the first half than did the Rebels; however, Ole Miss had built a 10-point lead at intermission.
The Rebels’ lead quickly disappeared in the second half as Georgia caught up and went on to take a 2-point lead prior to the first media timeout. In those four minutes, Ole Miss went 1-4 from the field, turned the ball over five times, and fouled Georgia five times—allowing the Bulldogs to silence the Ole Miss crowd.
After watching Georgia hit 9 of its first 11 shots in the second half, it took a bit for the Rebels’ to gather themselves–but they did just that. With a little under 8 minutes remaining in the contest, a Breein Tyree lay-in, followed by a Bulldog turnover, prompted a Rebels’ run that put the game in the hands of Ole Miss.
Tyree went on to hit a huge 3-ball followed by a big layup in traffic that gave the Rebels a 62-56 lead with just five minutes remaining in the game.
K.J. Buffen’s 3-pointer caused The Pavilion to explode as Ole Miss was riding a 15-2 run that forced Georgia to call another timeout. Following the timeout, it was Tyree, yet again, who nailed a deep 3-ball to put the Rebels out front by seven.
Georgia then went a run of its own, hitting 5 of 5 shots to get within one point—but a missed three pointer by William Jackson and a rebound by Devontae Shuler with just 18 seconds remaining put Tyree at the line to try and seal the win.
Although the New Jersey native had a rare miss at the line, it didn’t end up mattering as Georgia’s Tyree Crump missed the Bulldogs’ game-winning 3-point attempt with just one second on the clock as the Rebels emerged victorious, 72-71.
Tyree didn’t let the unusual miss at the charity stripe distract him from the Rebels’ final second of play. “It’s all about winning. We still had more game to play,” he said. “Obviously I was upset I missed the free throw, but the game was not over and we still came out with the win.”
After the game, Coach Davis stressed the role D.C. Davis played in Ole Miss’ win.
“D.C. Davis was the key to this win,” Coach Kermit said.
“Breein scored some buckets and he was a big huge part of it, but when I put D.C. in, our lead went to 8. He defensive rebounded the ball. He finished possessions. He was unbelievable defending. He plays without any mistakes. I thought he was the most valuable player when the lead went to eight.”
Kermit Davis on the importance of D.C. Davis in the win
Three players finished in double-digits for Ole Miss: Tyree (17), Shuler (16), and Terence Davis (13). Five other players scored for the Rebels, including Buffen and Bruce Stevens who had 8 and 7 points, respectively.
Ole Miss was edged out on the boards by five, but the Rebels shot significantly better from deep as they notched a 43% clip from downtown.
Ole Miss hosts Tennessee, the current-No. 5 team in the country, on Wednesday. The contest is scheduled to tip-off at 6:00 p.m. (CT) and it can be viewed on the SEC Network.
“This place will be rocking on Wednesday,” Coach Davis said. “We have so much respect for (head coach) Rick (Barnes) and Tennessee, but it sure is an opportunity we’re looking forward to.”
A lot at stake for the Rebels down the stretch
With big games coming up against Tennessee and Kentucky, Tyree was asked if he thinks much about a tournament berth that is within the Rebels’ grasp.
“Definitely, I’m aware of it,” Tyree said.
“I haven’t been to the tournament yet, so it’s something I think about every day. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think everybody on this team should be thinking about it on a daily basis and trying to figure out what our best way into the tournament is and how we’re going to finish out the year as strong as possible.”
Will the team feel any pressure with what all is on the line? “Yes, you could call it pressure,” Tyree said. “But it also livens guys up. It’s a motivation also,” he added.
Coach Davis made it clear his team and staff is aware of what’s at stake.
“It’s what we all play for. Everybody knows what their NET is. I don’t care what a coach says. Everybody knows. We don’t know exactly how many games you have to win because sometimes that depends on who you beat. It’s every guy’s goal and every coach’s goal to play in that when you tip it up for the first time. It’s not something we harp on but it’s sure something our guys are striving to get to.”
Coach Kermit Davis