Ole Miss basketball regular-season recap: 40 points for 40 minutes
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss will face Alabama in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Before the Rebels tip off against the Tide, here’s our “40 points for 40 minutes,” recapping the Rebels’ regular season.
- Many doubted the Rebels were going to be competitive this season, but head coach Kermit Davis helped his players believe in themselves, each other, and the process of winning. In October, junior guard Breein Tyree indicated he and his teammates knew they could be successful this year.
“I think we all knew that when no one off the roster transferred out of Ole Miss. This isn’t a rebuilding year for us. It’s not how the coaches are taking it and it’s definitely not how the players are taking it. I’m happy that the coaches aren’t looking to rebuild, but I’m not surprised.”
Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree
- Ole Miss was picked to finish 14th in the SEC–dead last. However, the Rebels finished the regular season tied for 6th. This is the seventh time in the last eight years that the Rebels have finished higher than their preseason projection.
- Kermit Davis, who became only the third coach in school history to win 20 games in his first season as head coach, along with Andy Kennedy and Rod Barnes, has been named SEC Coach of the Year by both the Associated Press and the SEC coaches.
- The Rebels enter the SEC Tournament with a NET ranking of 34 with four Quadrant 1 wins.
- Ole Miss has not been in the NCAA Tournament since the 2014-2015 season. According to most experts, the win over Missouri in the regular season finale will put the Rebels in the Big Dance this year.
- The Rebels beat a pair of Top 15 teams in back-to-back games for the first time in school history. (No. 10 Auburn, No. 14 Mississippi State)
- Kermit Davis proved that he is able to elevate each player’s game by placing the player in situations where his skill sets are best utilized. Terence Davis said as much back in October, 2018:
“In this offense, I don’t have to work for a bucket. I don’t have to work for my own shot. It comes to me naturally within the offense. In Canada I saw that. I actually went up to the coaches and said, ‘This is incredible how I don’t have to work for a shot. It’s just incredible. It’s all in the flow of the game and the offense and reading how you’re being guarded. It’s pretty amazing, man.’“
Terence Davis on Kermit Davis’ offensive system
- The transformation of Bruce Stevens from the beginning of the season to now is the “x-factor” for the Rebels’ postseason run. When he rebounds consistently, the Rebels have proven they can compete with the top teams in the nation.
- With the win over Missouri in the regular season finale, the Rebels secured their tenth 20-win season in the past 13 years.
- In the 2017-2018 season, Breein Tyree manned the point while Devontae Shuler came off the bench as a shooting guard. In the 2018-2019 season, however, Shuler has started at point guard while Tyree shifted to starting shooting guard.
- Terence Davis and Breein Tyree are the first pair of Rebel teammates to have each scored 1,000 career points since Murphy Holloway and Marshall Henderson.
- Devontae Shuler owns a .405 3-point percentage, which is the best on the team.
- Breein Tyree has notched a 20-point game in 17 games this season.
- Freshmen K.J. Buffen and Blake Hinson have already shown to be playmakers in big moments. Expect for them to be the next great SEC scoring duo. Buffen is averaging 20.9 minutes per game this season, while Hinson is averaging 24.1 minutes per game.
- The Rebels are third in the NCAA and first in the SEC in free throw percentage at 78.5%. Ole Miss has shot over 85 percent from the free throw line in 12 games this season, including 90 percent-or-better in six games.
- Tyree’s transition to shooting guard allows him to focus on scoring the ball via acrobatic layups, smooth mid-range jumps, and three pointers from NBA-range, which is why his scoring has improved from 10.8 PPG to 18.5 PPG.
- The Rebels improved from 12 wins last season to 20 in 2019. This eight-game turnaround is the best out of all Power 5 schools in the country.
In SEC play, Tyree is averaging 19.0 PPG, and was named First Team All-SEC by the league coaches on Tuesday.
- Improving to 10-8 in SEC play, Ole Miss notched a winning conference record for the fifth time in the last seven years.
- John Calipari, Cuonzo Martin, and Bryce Drew made the NCAA Tournament as first-year head coaches. Kermit Davis will likely be the fourth SEC coach added to this list.
- The Rebels are fourth in the SEC in assists per game (14.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1).
- Kermit Davis is only the third active coach in the league to win 20 games in his first season as head coach in the SEC.
- Senior guard Terence Davis leads the Rebels in rebounds per game (5.8) and assists per game (3.4).
- If you are one who has been betting money on the Rebels every game this season, your record would be 23-8 against the spread, ranking the Rebels No. 2 in the country against the spread–behind Duke.
- The last two Ole Miss teams to make the NCAA Tournament each had South Carolina natives Murphy Holloway and M.J. Rhett on their rosters. Devontae Shuler is also from South Carolina. Coincidence? We think not.
- Breein Tyree is the only player in the SEC to rank in the conference’s top 10 in scoring (2nd-18.5 ppg), free throw percentage (4th-83.1), field goal percentage (6th-47.6) and three-pointers made (7th-2.2 per game).
- The Pavilion at Ole Miss boasts a record five sellouts this season and an average attendance record of 7,816, an increase of 13% from the prior season.
- Terence Davis and Breein Tyree are the highest scoring duo in the SEC at 34.6 PPG. Ole Miss has produced 14 All-SEC guards over the past 13 seasons.
- Devontae Shuler is tied for third in the SEC with 1.8 steals per game.
- K.J. Buffen has been game-changer as a sixth man, notching huge rebounds for the team late in games. As the season has progressed, Buffen has been in at the 4 position when the game is on the line.
- Tyree is second in the SEC in minutes played this season at 1050. He trails Mississippi State senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon by only seven minutes.
- In three of the last four games, Bruce Stevens has reached double digit scoring—even though his season average sits at 8.4 PPG.
Ole Miss is the only SEC team to play a game at Bridgestone Arena prior to the start of the SEC Tournament this season, defeating Kermit Davis’ former team Middle Tennessee, 74-56 (Dec. 21, 2018).
- The Rebels’ last three losses have been by a combined 7 points, with two of those losses coming against top 10 teams in Kentucky and Tennessee.
- The Rebels came oh-so-close to earning the double-bye in the SEC tourney. Although South Carolina beat Ole Miss 79-64, the game was tied 61-61 with 6:15 remaining in that game. If Ole Miss had won, Coach Davis’ bunch would have earned the four seed in the SEC and the double bye.
- This season, Ole Miss earned its first home-and-home sweep of Georgia since 1989.
- The Rebels trailed by eight at halftime on the road at Missouri, but in the win, they overcame a halftime deficit of more than five points on the road for the first time since February 4, 2017 at Vanderbilt.
- Ole Miss finishes with a winning road record (5-4) in conference play for the first time since 2014-15 (6-3)— the last time the Rebels made the NCAA Tournament.
- The 1-3-1 defense with Buffen at the top can give teams nightmares. Look for the Rebels to keep utilizing it to change the tempo and create easy transition scoring opportunities.
Ole Miss vs. Alabama Game Info
Date: Thursday, March 14, 2019
Time: 6 p.m. CT
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Arena: Bridgestone Arena (19,395) Television: SEC Network
Series: Alabama leads 121-58
Last Meeting: Alabama won 74-53 – Jan. 22, 2019