Ole Miss defeats Montana 86-81 on Thanksgiving Day
OXFORD, Miss. – Head coach Andy Kennedy is pleased with the offense his team is producing; however, as the season goes along he wants to see continued growth–especially on the defensive side.
Deandre Burnett led the team with 21 points as Ole Miss (5-1) fought off Montana (1-5) 86-81 in the Rebels’ first-ever Thanksgiving Day game. Cullen Neal added 19 points, Terence Davis chipped in 18 and Sebastian Saiz recorded his 12th double-double of his career with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Ole Miss held a double-digit lead for most of the game until the Grizzlies cut into the Rebels’ lead at the 5:41 mark of the second half when Bobby Moorehead drained his only three-pointer of the game to make it 72-65.
The Rebels pushed their lead back up to 78-68 at the two-minute mark after Burnett made two foul shots, and held a double-digit lead for 12 seconds until Jack Lopez’ 3 made it 80-73 with 1:41 to go. Montana’s Walter Wright and Ahmaad Rorie missed two shot attempts from the 3-point line that could have gotten the team inches closer to a possible upset.
Sayeed Pridgett led the Grizzlies with 19 points. Rorie scored 18, over his season average of 15.5 points. Lopez added 17.
In the final 30 seconds, Saiz and Burnett sealed the win from the free throw line, making all four attempts.
“Defensively, there’s a recurring theme. We are giving up 12-made 3-pointers a game at 45 percent,” Kennedy said. “We went down a little bit tonight at 36 percent but we still gave up 12 3’s. We are making a lot of mistakes in regards to guarding the ball, which creates some unnecessary rotations.
“But the thing that infuriates me is the scouting report errors. We got to have a little more personal accountability as it relates to preparing for the game.”
Both programs are coming off appearances in the Paradise Jam Tournament. Ole Miss went 2-1 in the tournament, making it all the way to the championship game, only to fall to No. 12 Creighton. Montana went 1-2 in the tournament, getting its only win against Oral Roberts in the consolation game.
The Rebels hit eight of their first 19 shot attempts Thursday, but the Grizzlies made only three of their first 14 shot attempts, giving Ole Miss some room for error. But after the first shaky first five and a half minutes, shots started falling for the Rebels. After Montana’s Pridgett made a layup, Ole Miss went on an 8-2 run to push its lead to 29-18 with 6:31 before halftime.
Four three-pointers from the Rebels (three from Davis, one from Saiz) sent Ole Miss into the break leading 41-29.
The Rebels made 11 of 26 from beyond the arc. Montana came in shooting 43 percent from the field this season, but the Grizzlies shot only 38.4 percent for the game. Montana also came in holding its opponents to just 28.8 percent from deep range this season, but the shots from the three-point line were falling for Ole Miss.
Neal was 5 for 8; Davis was 3 for 4 from deep.
Grizzlies’ forward Fabijan Krslovic came in averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. He finished the game with seven points and 11 rebounds.
Grizzlies play at South Dakota on Sunday at noon.
Rebels host Middle Tennessee State on 11/30 at 7:00 p.m.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
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.