Georgia Bulldogs get past Ole Miss 76-72
On a cold, snowy Wednesday evening on the Ole Miss campus, students didn’t have class and most of them decided to come out to the Tad Smith Coliseum to watch their Ole Miss Rebels take on Georgia.
In addition to classes being cancelled both Wednesday and Thursday, the student body had another thing to be happy about: free hot dogs from the concessions since all of the restaurants around the area were closed. Unfortunately, once the game started, Rebel fans didn’t have a lot to be excited about.
Kenny Gaines had 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting to lead Georgia (18-9, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) past Ole Miss 76-72 for the season sweep. The Bulldogs picked up their fifth road win in the SEC, Georgia’s most since 1991.
The Rebels (19-9, 10-5), winners of eight of their last nine, came into Wednesday’s SEC match-up looking to solidify their spot in the NCAA tournament, but couldn’t put a stop to a Bulldogs’ offense that went 11-for-23 from 3-point range.
While Ole Miss looked to be a for-sure lock for March Madness, the Bulldogs needed this win after going 1-2 in their last three games against Auburn, South Carolina, and Alabama.
Gaines and his teammate Nemanja Djurisic knocked down shot after shot when they were left open on the perimeter. The Rebels’ zone defense wasn’t effective as Djurisic and Gaines were able to find loopholes all night long. Djurisic had 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting, but mostly did his damage from beyond the arc, going 4-for-9 from deep.
In the first meeting back on January 20, Georgia’s leading scorer Marcus Thornton (12.3 ppg) scored 16 points to help the Bulldogs defeat the Rebels 69-64 at home. Wednesday night, Thornton picked up two cheap fouls early and had to watch the game from the bench. He played with three fouls in the second half and finished the game with 18 points on 5-for-11 shooting.
Without Thornton in the lineup in the first half, Gaines and Djurisic sparked the Bulldogs’ offense and helped Mark Fox’s team take a 34-23 lead into the locker room.
Every time Georgia felt Ole Miss emerging on offense, the Bulldogs tightened up on defense, which led to easy points on the other end. Georgia forced the Rebels into 11 turnovers that led to 18 points.
Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody, who came into the game averaging 16.4 points per contest, was held to only two points on 1-for-4 shooting after the first 20 minutes. He finished the game with 19 points, on an uncharacteristic 5-for-16 shooting night.
Ole Miss’ second-leading scorer, Jarvis Summers, finished with 13 points. Terence Smith came off the bench to score 11, while Sebastian Saiz fouled out late in the game with 12 points.
After Summers’ jumper and two foul shots from Dwight Coleby, the Rebels were only down 23-21 with 2:55 left in the first half. But then Djurisic drained his third 3-pointer of the half, followed by a breakaway layup from Gaines.
Charles Mann put in his own 3-pointer to add to his 10-point performance, and Georgia quickly mounted a 31-21 lead.
The Bulldogs had possession in the final seconds of the first half and Gaines was the one with the ball in his hands. His pump fake forced his defender to jump out of his shoes, and Gaines was able to drain the team’s eighth 3-pointer of the half. Gaines and Djurisic combined to score 21 of Georgia’s 34 first-half points.
Moody’s 3-pointer at the 3:33 mark of the second half sliced Georgia’s lead to 61-58; however, Ole Miss wouldn’t get any closer after that. The Bulldogs iced the victory with Gaines draining two shots from the charity stripe, giving his team a 75-67 lead with 20 seconds left.
Ole Miss had some opportunities down the stretch to get closer, but couldn’t get a shot to fall from inside the paint or from the perimeter.
Next Up: Ole Miss travels to Baton Rouge Saturday to play LSU. Tipoff is set for 1:00 pm.
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.