Ole Miss rallies past UMass 90-88 off Saiz’s late tip-in
OXFORD, Miss. – At one point, it looked as if UMass would take one in Oxford, but Andy Kennedy’s talented group had other plans in mind.
Senior forward Sebastian Saiz got the tip-in off Deandre Burnett’s missed layup and Ole Miss followed that with a defensive stop on the other end to seal the Rebels’ 90-88 victory over the Minutemen Monday night inside The Pavilion.
Saiz led Ole Miss (2-0) with 22 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, making 14 of 18 from the free throw line. Cullen Neal had 21, while playing with four fouls. The Rebels finished the game on a 13-2 run.
UMass (1-1) led 86-77 with 4:33 left and had control, in large part, thanks to its backcourt of DeJon Jarreau, Zach Lewis and Luwane Pipkins. Jarreau led the Minutemen with 25 points. Lewis added 20; Pipkins provided 18. As a team, UMass made 13 of 33 shots from the 3-point line.
“I thought Jarreau came in with a reputation as a non-shooter,” Kennedy said. “That kid’s going to be tremendous.”
The game was marred by 57 total fouls, and both programs were forced to adjust to how the referees were calling the game. This appeared to throw Ole Miss out of rhythm as every important Rebel on the floor found himself in foul trouble. Terence Davis fouled out midway through the second half. He finished with 13 points, scoring the Rebels’ first 10 points to begin the second half.
Burnett added 12; Rasheed Brooks had 11.
“We have 28 fouls, they have 29 fouls. We never really established a rhythm. It’s amazing, you score 90 points, man, I thought we were very, very poor offensively from spacing. The only thing we did well, at the end, I thought we were in attack mode.”
Andy Kennedy on fouls in game with UMass
Burnett started the beginning of Ole Miss’ comeback with two trips to the foul line, making all four attempts. Burnett tied the game at 88-all on a driving layup with 1:08 to go in the game to give the Rebels their first lead since the 15:49 mark.
Pipkins turned the ball over on the next UMass offensive possession, paving the way for an incredible finish by Ole Miss. After a 30-second timeout by the Rebels, Burnett held the ball, allowing the clock to drain before slashing to the basket as Saiz was in the paint waiting for the offensive rebound.
“Sebas had a tremendous game, obviously. In game one he had foul trouble, never got any rhythm. But he stepped up big for us when we were struggling across the board with 22 and 19. He had a huge tip and put us in control to get out 2-0.”
Kennedy on Saiz
Back and forth
Neither team shot well in the early minutes of the first half, but Ole Miss was making enough shots to stay out in front of UMass. Hot outside shooting from Neal and solid production from Saiz at the free throw line helped the Rebels build a 34-24 lead.
Then the tide turned thanks to Lewis and Jarreau.
Lewis scored five of the next eight Mass points to cut the deficit to 36-32. Then a three from Donte Clark, who finished with 13 points, had UMass down by only one. Saiz’ two foul shots put Ole Miss up 38-35, but the Minutemen quickly tied it 38-all with a three from Jarreau.
Jarreau, then, followed with a layup to give UMass its first lead since the 15:53 mark. Lewis took back over for the Minutemen on offense, draining back-to-back shots from deep to give UMass its biggest lead of the half at 46-38. Anderson’s two free throws gave the team an eight-point lead at halftime.
Saiz and Neal led the way for the Rebels on offense, scoring 23 of the team’s 40 first-half points. Burnett was limited due to foul trouble. He picked up three fouls in the first half. Neal had three, as well, but managed to play 17 of the first 20 minutes.
“For us, the game is hard to get a flow. It’s really hard to get a flow with the way the whistle is now. As I told my team, we have to adjust because it’s across the board.”
With the win over UMass, Kennedy is now tied with former Auburn coach Joel Eaves on the SEC career coaching victories list (214). Ole Miss is 2-0 all-time against the Minutemen, winning the first-ever meeting between both programs, 74-64, at the Naismith Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase last season.
The Rebels are 14-13 all-time against current members of the Atlantic 10.
Ole Miss will play Oral Roberts in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands on November 18 (2:00 p.m., CBSSports).
(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Athletics)