OXFORD, Miss. – On Tuesday night, Ole Miss suffered another heartbreaking loss in the final minute of play, dropping an 80-76 contest to No. 6 Kentucky at home in The Pavilion.
(Click here for box score.)
One would be hard pressed to say which was more gut-wrenching–watching the Rebs fight so hard, only to come up short again at the end, or hearing senior Terence Davis describe his feelings on Senior Night, knowing the game against the Wildcats was the last home in an Ole Miss jersey for Terence, D.C. Davis, and Bruce Stevens.
Terence Davis opens up after the Rebels’ game against Kentucky, explaining what it means to him for this to be his last game in The Pavilion. I defy you to watch this and not get teary. Thank you, T.D. for being who you are. We love you. #OleMiss pic.twitter.com/cdjXWvDbZ2
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) March 6, 2019
Though his team didn’t win, Terence went out in grand style. The explosive guard out of Southaven (Miss.), notched a 25-point, 12 rebound double-double in 39 minutes on the floor.
Breein Tyree also added 21 points for the Rebels in his 38 minutes on the court.
It may have been a tough loss, but the effort displayed this evening could not have been called into question. That much is for sure.
First half: Rebs did what they needed to do
Ole Miss could not have asked for a better first half of basketball against one of the nation’s best in Kentucky. Leading by one point, 39-38, the Rebels fought early turnovers and scoring droughts to edge out the Wildcats in the first 20 minutes of play.
Given the fact that it was the final game for the seniors on Craddock Court, Terence Davis showed up, as expected, and tallied 15 points in the opening frame, while helping crash the boards and diving for loose balls in the process.
“We had great energy,” head coach Kermit Davis said after the game.
“I thought our team played the entire game. Kentucky is just good. They’re maybe a number one seed, and that’s just who they are. They’re a tough cover. Them coming off a loss, we got a great effort from them. They came right at us, and I thought their team played well. It was a really good college game, and I’m proud of our effort.“
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis
Ole Miss led in rebounding, 17-13, in the early going. To be fair, there were not all that many missed shots to rebound as both teams were shooting a combined 52.5% from the floor and 38% from three-point range. Regardless, there was a clear, early effort from the Rebels to focus on the boards.
Another close second half
Kentucky–specifically, the Wildcats’ guard Ashton Hagans–came out and quickly got on top of the Rebels within the first couple of minutes, taking a 42-39 lead over Ole Miss.
However, like in week’s past, the Rebs did not let the run phase them. The game stayed within a two-point margin most of the way through the middle of the second half of play.
Neither team could seem to get separation—that is, until Kentucky pulled out in front by eightpoints, with just about eight minutes remaining, putting Ole Miss in a hole from which the Rebels couldn’t quite emerge.
With the Wildcats still shooting lights out and burning the clock at the same time, Ole Miss was struggling to stay within arm’s distance. At one point, with about 30 seconds to go, the Rebels had only hit two of their last 12 from the floor.
But as he has so often done, Terence Davis hit a straight-away three ball that brought Ole Miss to within two-points with just 6 seconds remaining. They got the foul right at the inbound, but Kentucky converted at the free throw line. Ole Miss, now down by four, could not work a miracle to knock off the Wildcats and went on to drop the Rebels’ third straight, 80-76.
“We really are about three possessions away from winning about eight of nine,” Coach Davis said. “We still have our same warts and our same good things. We just have to keep plugging away.”
NCAA Tournament outlook
With the loss to Kentucky, the mission still remains the same; Ole Miss likely needs to win another game in order to feel confident about an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. While their resume could, theoretically, have them in the tourney if the correct pieces fall into place, the Rebels will feel a whole lot better if they can get a road win at Mizzou this Saturday.
Basketball experts do not agree on what, exactly, Ole Miss needs to do to get in to the Big Dance, but suffice it to say, the Rebels want to end the regular season on a high note and remove any uncertainty as to their fate. A win Saturday in Columbia would go a long way towards achieving that goal.
“Nothing is a must win unless it’s an out game. I think these are all NCAA Tournament play-in games. Do I think we’re an NCAA Tournament team? You bet. I think everyone in our league thinks we are. If you watch us, do we pass the eye test in these games? No question about it. There’s no doubt it’s a big game for a lot of teams on the last weekend of the regular season.“
Head coach Kermit Davis
The Rebels will hit the road to Columbia, Missouri where they will face off against the Missouri Tigers in the final regular season contest of the season. Tip off in Mizzou Arena is set for 2:30 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on the SEC Network.