Memphis, TN – Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis saw his bench get outscored 52-31 by Memphis Saturday in the FedEx Forum. Davis also saw his team get soundly beaten in the paint, 52-20.
And yet, his Rebels lost by just one, 87-86, on the road to the 16th-ranked Memphis Tigers.
(Click here for box score.)
Yes, Davis, his staff and players certainly have things to work on—but they definitely shouldn’t hang their heads after the loss. It was an exciting game that should make Ole Miss fans optimistic for the future of the program.
Sophomore guard/forward Blake Hinson made his season debut and didn’t seem to miss a beat, scoring 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting in 21 minutes of action. If this is any indication of what’s to come, Hinson will be a vital piece of Ole Miss’ offense.
Senior point guard Breein Tyree scored 24 points, shooting 7 of 20. Junior guard Devontae Shuler added nine points on 3 for 11 shooting.
In addition to Hinson, sophomore guard K.J. Buffen was a bright spot for the Rebels’ offense. He tallied 13 points on 4 of 8 shooting, but fouled out in the second half.
Junior big man Khadim Sy – nine points and six rebounds in 19 minutes – played just four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. As a result, Coach Davis was forced to go deep into his bench in the contest. Freshman forward Antavion Collum, who had only played a total of 27 minutes going into Saturday’s matchup, came in and played 8, chipping in two points and three rebounds.
Despite the foul trouble and low FG % — 39% for the Rebels, compared to 52% for the Tigers — Ole Miss was in this one all the way to the end.
Coming opportunities vs. quality non-conference teams
Before conference play, Ole Miss will have additional opportunities to gain quality non-conference wins. The Rebels will face Penn State in the NIT Tip-Off on Nov. 27 in the Barclays Center. The Nittany Lions are currently ranked 32nd on Kenpom. After that, Davis’ bunch may face either Syracuse (35th on Kenpom) or Oklahoma State (48th on Kenpom).
So, while it’s still early to tell whether or not Davis will be able to get this team into the NCAA Tournament, by the looks of Saturday, he will have this team ready to compete.
And facing Memphis, a team with talent at every position, in early November is a game Davis would like to schedule every year if the opportunity presents itself.
“This game needs to be played every year. As long as I’m the coach, I hope it is. It was a great atmosphere for basketball.”
Kermit Davis on future vs. Memphis
Not only was it a great atmosphere, it was Ole Miss’ first big test of the season, and it gave Davis a glimpse of where his team is.
Positives vs. Memphis
There are two positives from yesterday. One, the Rebels showed they can go into a hostile environment and battle. The second is that Ole Miss didn’t throw in the towel after the Tigers built a 64-48 lead off a second-chance layup by freshman forward Precious Achiuwa, who finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds on 10 of 16 shooting.
There was still life for Ole Miss as the Rebels kept going to the free throw line down the stretch, fighting and clawing until the final buzzer.
Junior guard Bryce Williams made two foul shots to cut the Ole Miss deficit to 68-56, then Collum made two free throws to make it a 10-point game. Two more free throws by Williams made it 68-60 with 5:57 to go.
It was simply a make or miss game from that point on. The final eight seconds of the game were probably the most entertaining. Sophomore guard Tyler Harris made 1 of 2 free throws to keep Memphis in front 85-82. Making both foul shots could have sealed the win.
Tyree, who thought he got fouled as he was going up for a shot, split free throws and with only five seconds left, the Tigers led 85-83. But on Memphis’ final possession of the game, freshman wing D.J. Jeffries broke loose for the game-sealing dunk.
Jeffries finished with 23 points on 10 of 18 shooting.
“At the end, couldn’t make a play when we needed to,” Davis said. “But good college game in November.”
Not only was this a good college basketball game for a Saturday afternoon in November, but it was a good look for the Rebels, who went the distance with the Tigers and perhaps showed they are a potential NCAA Tournament team.
- Ole Miss suffered its first loss of the season as well as the first loss to Memphis in the last four matchups of the series.
- Sophomore Blake Hinson made his 2019-20 season debut, and drilled a three-pointer on his first shot attempt; Hinson tallied 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting in 21 minutes off the bench.
- Breein Tyree posted the 25th career 20-point game of his career with a team-high 24 points.
- KJ buffen scored 13 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds before fouling out with 10:10 left in the game.
- Khadim Sy scored nine points, his most as a Rebel.
- It was the first time this season Ole Miss allowed more than 58 points.
- The Rebels tallied a season-high 16 offensive rebounds.
- With three steals, Devontae Shuler now has 100 steals for his career
(Tip-Ins are courtesy of Ole Miss Men’s Basketball)
Ole Miss heads to Brooklyn to compete in the NIT Tip-Off. The Rebels begin the tournament against Penn State. Tipoff from the Barclays Center is set for 4 p.m. CT on ESPN2. After enjoying Thanksgiving, Ole Miss will face either Syracuse or Oklahoma State on Friday. (Nov. 29).