OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss took care of business on Saturday against Vanderbilt, defeating the Commodores, 86-60, in front of a crowd of 7,495 fans at the Pavilion.
Vandy, who arrived in Oxford with a 9-19 overall and 1-15 record in SEC play, has struggled to get going in the first year of the Jerry Stackhouse era, partially because of an injury to Aaron Nesmith who was leading the SEC in scoring prior to going down for the year. The Commodores are currently led by junior guard Saben Lee who was fifth in the conference in scoring and seventh in FG% — prior to Saturday’s contest in Oxford.
Although Ole Miss came into the game with a 13-15 overall record (4-11 SEC), the Rebels have notched an impressive 11-5 record at home for the 2019-2020.
Rebels get off to quick start against Vandy
Head coach Kermit Davis’ team jumped out to an early 13-1 lead, beginning with two quick buckets from Khadim Sy. The Rebels appeared to be off to an easy start, but thanks to three quick triples and a couple of easy buckets from the Commodores, Ole Miss found itself down 15-13 after the hot start.
This, however, was the only time the Rebs would be down as Sy made an impressive bucket off a drop step out of the post that would give Ole Miss the lead again — a lead it would hold for the rest of the game
The game remained fairly close until Ole Miss went on a quick 6-0 run from the 8:03 mark to the 6:17 mark in the first half that extended the Rebels’ lead to eight. At the 4:11 mark, Ole Miss cracked a double-digit lead via a beautiful put back and one from freshman forward Sammy Hunter.
The Rebels closed out the first half with a 43-27 lead while making 55% of their shots, compared to Vanderbilt’s 32%.
Rebels remain hot in second half
Ole Miss continued its hot hand in the second half, shooting 54% from the field and going 6-14 from deep. Although the Rebels’ defense struggled to guard the three in the first half, they did an excellent job turning it around in the second as Vanderbilt shot just 1-8 from beyond the arc at a 12.5% clip.
The highlight from the second half was a Bryce Williams block that turned into instant offense for Devontae Shuler, pushing the Rebel lead up to 31.
— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) March 1, 2020
Ole Miss improves to 14-15 on the year and 5-11 in conference.
Spreading it around
Ole Miss finished with five players in double figures as Devontae Shuler, KJ Buffen, Breein Tyree, Blake Hinson, and Sy all hit the mark. The Rebels were led by Shuler who posted an impressive line of 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. He also finished without a turnover, something Coach Davis praised in the post game press conference.
“Devontae’s one of the toughest guys you’ll see. He played really well tonight, six assists, no turnovers. He had some great passes, got in a little foul trouble, but his game tonight was really under control, and I was really proud of him.“
Coach Davis on Shuler
Buffen had an efficient game, shooting 8-11 from the field and totaling 17 points with 6 rebounds.
Sy did an exceptional job of battling down low and working to get offensive rebounds. His efforts were praised by Coach Davis in the post game presser as the junior from Senegal finished 5-7 shooting, totaling 12 points and six rebounds.
“I was really proud of Khadim’s (Sy) effort in the first half. Today, he gave us a great lift in the first half.“
Head coach Kermit Davis on Khadim Sy
Coach Davis was also impressed by the performances of freshmen Austin Crowley and Sammy Hunter. Crowley, who at one time was a Vanderbilt commit until the dismissal of former Commodore Coach Bryce Drew, finished with 5 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds. Hunter finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 blocks in only 13 minutes of play.
“Sammy’s energy level has been good, we just have to get him to rebound the ball,” Coach Davis said.
“His energy level has been good, he’s a fun guy to coach. He’s going to be a really good player here. He’s just kind of going through a freshman transition, and I think he’s going to make a huge jump into his sophomore year.“
Coach Davis on Sammy Hunter
Hunter’s blocks ignited the Ole Miss faithful and got The Pavilion crowd riled up.
Vanderbilt was led by big man Ejike Obinna who finished with 13 points on 3 rebounds. Saben Lee had a rough day, shooting 3-16 from the floor. Lee finished with 10 points, and Vanderbilt also got a solid contribution from Scotty Pippen Jr. who notched another 11 points and shot the ball well from the three point line.
The Rebels only have one more week of regular season play remaining, and that includes a home matchup against the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday and a rivalry contest against Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday.
The SEC Tournament is slated for March 11-15 in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.