Ole Miss overcomes adversity and rallies to defeat Tennessee 80-69
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss was down to just seven available players, six of whom are on scholarship, while staring at a 13-point deficit early in the second half Tuesday night against Tennessee.
The Rebels’ roster took another hit when senior forward Rasheed Brooks was taken off the court on a stretcher after having an apparent seizure during an Ole Miss time out. He was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford and later reported to be in stable condition.
After Brooks’ departure, his Ole Miss team regrouped and later rallied midway through the second half to defeat Tennessee (9-9, 2-4 SEC) 80-69 inside The Pavilion. The win snapped the Rebels’ two-game losing streak.
In the post game press conference, head coach Andy Kennedy commented on how frightening Brooks’ collapse was.
Andy Kennedy on Rasheed Brooks’ seizure
Kennedy said he initially thought Brooks was having back cramps, as the coach watched the Ole Miss senior appear to stretch his back during the timeout much in the way one does to work out a cramp. However, it soon became clear Brooks’ situation was much more serious.
Kennedy said he was going to the hospital to see Brooks after the press conference and was relieved to hear Brooks’ condition was improved. “As of right now, they say he’s conscious and responding well,” he said.
After the unfortunate incident occurred, Ole Miss (11-7, 2-4) pulled together and went on an 18-4 run to take a 57-56 lead–this coming after having been held to just one point early in the second half. Tennessee had finished a 12-1 run to take its biggest of the night at 52-39.
For the next four minutes, both programs traded baskets and exchanged the lead three times until the Rebels took the lead for good off a layup by Terence Davis in transition. Davis led Ole Miss with a game-high 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Sebastian Saiz had a career night with 17 points and 10 boards to become only the sixth player in school history to join the 1,000 point/800 rebound club. He is the 38th player in Rebel history to reach 1,000 points and the seventh player in school history to reach 800 rebounds.
Breein Tyree and Justas Furmanavicius each provided 15 points, helping Ole Miss outscore the Vols 17-8 to end the game.
“They outplayed us,” Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes said. “In any position on the floor, they outplayed us.”
For a while in the first half, it looked as if Ole Miss would run away from Tennessee after Cullen Neal’s assist to Davis in the open court for the two-handed dunk. After Davis’ dunk, the Rebels led 25-14, which was their biggest lead of the game.
Then the Vols made shots to climb their way back into the game.
Jordan Bowden drained a three to make it 25-17. Then, Bowden made two more plus two shots from the foul line to get Tennessee within 29-26 with 5:19 left in the first 20 minutes. The Vols remained on Ole Miss’ heels for the remainder of the first half thanks to Robert Hubbs III and Lamonte Turner.
Hubbs and Turner scored Tennessee’s final seven points of the first half to tie it 38-all. Hubbs and Turner led the Vols with 15 points. Bowden finished with 12.
The Rebels made 27 of 42 shots from the foul line. Furmanavicius was a perfect 7 for 7 from the charity stripe. Ole Miss shot 48.1 percent from the field (26 of 54). Tennessee made 25 of 71 shots.
The Rebels continued to have turnover issues, committing 17 which turned into 19 points for the Vols.
Vols’ coach Barnes said he thought Ole Miss deserved to win the game based on the Rebels’ intensity.
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes
Both teams faced foul trouble in the game. Shembari Phillips and Grant Williams fouled out for Tennessee late in the second half. Saiz fouled out late for Ole Miss, while Marcanvis Hymon finished the game, playing with four fouls. There were a total of 55 fouls called between both teams.
Vols pray for Brooks
Vols coach Rick Barnes mentioned he and his team said a prayer after what had happened to Brooks during the early minutes of the second half.
“It was hard,” Barnes’ said of his team’s reaction to Brooks’ seizure. “We huddled up and said a prayer for him.”
Ole Miss travels to Missouri on Saturday (2:30 p.m., SECN).
Tennessee hosts Mississippi State on Saturday (6:00 p.m., SECN).