Andy Kennedy watched as Breein Tyree grew up against the Vols
OXFORD, Miss. – Since junior guard Deandre Burnett was sidelined with a right ankle sprain suffered in the Rebels’ loss to Georgia on January 11, freshman guard Breein Tyree has had to play more minutes as the Rebels’ floor general. And after Tyree’s performance against Tennessee, his head coach felt the freshman grew up.
Andy Kennedy prefers to have a proven veteran at the point guard position, not a true freshman like Tyree who’s still getting accustomed to playing guards that are just as fast as he is in the Southeastern Conference. On Tuesday night, Tyree showed he wasn’t scared to attack the basket against the Vols’ guards and post players.
Each time Tyree had the basketball in his hands, he looked to slash to the basket for either a short jumper or a layup. The Somerset, New Jersey native didn’t make a high percentage of his shots, converting on 4 of 11; however, his aggressiveness caused Tennessee to get in foul trouble.
As a team, the Rebels (11-7, 2-4 SEC) converted on 27 of 42 shots from the foul line. Freshman forward Justas Furmanavicius went a perfect 7 for 7 from the charity stripe. Tyree wasn’t that far behind his teammate, converting on 7 of 8 shots.
With a 15-point performance in 30 minutes of action against the Vols (9-9, 2-4), Tyree surpassed his previous career-high of 11 points he scored against Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 30. Ole Miss needed Tyree’s performance as the Rebels had struggled to replace Burnett–and his team-leading 18 points per game–in their last two games.
“I thought Breein Tyree really grew up,” Kennedy said about Tyree, who also had six assists, one steal, and one assist.
“In the second half, he made some plays strong at the rim, finishing through contact. I thought he really, really grew up tonight, which is a great indication for his future moving forward.”
Andy Kennedy on Breein Tyree
As Kennedy watched Tyree attacking the rim Tuesday, the coach’s confidence in the freshman grew larger each time he saw him make a play.
It didn’t hurt that Tyree only turned the ball over three times.
Tyree’s performance was also a strong indication that his knee is no longer bothering him. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April, which forced him to miss summer workouts, and he wasn’t cleared to play until late in fall camp. Tyree saw very little action in October and wasn’t a full-go until November.
To be exact, Tyree’s path to the primary floor general took place in only two months, and until Burnett returns, Kennedy sees no issue with keeping Tyree in the starting lineup.
“He showed he can make plays in a tough situation against a good team like Tennessee. We are down 13 with 15 to play. We don’t have a lot of bodies, and our minds are elsewhere based on what transpired with Rasheed (Brooks). For him to be able to man up, and lead us down the stretch, I think that’s huge in his growth.”
Kennedy on Breein Tyree
Furmanavicius’ emergence as a power forward
Tyree wasn’t the only Ole Miss player to have a career-night against Tennessee, as Justas Furmanavicius surpassed his 13-point performance he scored against South Alabama on Dec. 22 with a 15-point performance against the Vols on 4 of 6 shooting. He also had nine rebounds and two steals.
“I thought he was active in keeping balls alive, and finishing at the rim,” Kennedy said. “He was also 7 for 7 from the free throw line, which was huge. His counterpart (Marcanvis Hymon) goes 0 for 6, but when he can go 7 for 7, hopefully now it will get him over the hump.”
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)