Ole Miss Falls to Vanderbilt, 70-75
NASHVILLE — The Ole Miss men’s basketball team entered the weekend having won five of its last six games. The Rebels’ previous game was a victory over the Missouri Tigers on Tuesday, a win that gave them the season sweep and momentum as they turned their attention to Vanderbilt.
In Nashville the Rebels would come up just short of the crucial win, losing 70-75 to the Commodores.
Ole Miss now falls to 13-10 (8-8 SEC) on the season and currently sits in sixth place in the SEC. Vanderbilt improves to 7-13 (3-11 SEC). Despite picking up their biggest win of the season, the Commodores still sit in last in the SEC.
The loss jeopardizes Ole Miss’ chances of making the March Madness tournament. The Rebels entered Saturday’s game needing to play with a sense of desperation, knowing a win was much more important than it was for Vandy. The Commodores played with a lot of heart — and didn’t mind filling the role of spoiler.
In the early stages of the game Ole Miss knew its season could be in jeopardy, and its leaders — Devontae Shuler and Romello White — came out with purpose and fire, managing to combine for 18 of Ole Miss’ first 20 points.
Despite the effort by White and Shuler, however, Vanderbilt would hold a consistent lead over Ole Miss that kept the Rebels chasing the home team.
The Commodores would shoot the ball effectively, hitting 48.1% from the field, 38.5% from three, and just 50% from the free throw line. Even though Ole Miss contested multiple three-point shots, they just kept falling for Vandy.
The Rebels, on the other hand, would shoot almost an identical 48% from the field but failed to convert on their two three-point attempts in the first half. That turned out to be the difference as Ole Miss would head to the locker room down just three points, 31-34
The second half featured a lot of back and forth scoring, but the Commodores would continue to hit the threes on what seemed like demand. Even though Vanderbilt finished the game shooting 47.8% from three-point range, the Rebels were able to connect on 4-11 three-point shots, themselves, which kept them in the game late.
Ole Miss was tasked with coming back from down nine points with 3:34 left in the game. It would have to be some of the best basketball they could play in 3 minutes if they wanted a chance to emerge victorious.
This group of Rebels was ready for the challenge. After making some clutch shots late, Ole Miss would have to hope that Vanderbilt missed a few big free throws.
Well… that part of it happened, thanks to a Jordan Wright missed free throw followed by a clutch Devontae Shuler three.
The Rebels would trail by just three after the big shot, but still needed a stop. With just 36 seconds left and down two, Ole Miss would foul on the inbound, but it didn’t look like they were intentionally trying to foul as much as they were trying to get a jump ball call.
It didn’t really come back to bite the Rebels as the Commodores’ Clevon Brown would split the free throws, giving Ole Miss a possession down three, despite not having a single timeout left.
Devontae would immediately bring the ball up. He attempted to tie the game with 16 seconds and missed, but Romello would come up with what could’ve been the biggest offensive rebound for Ole Miss all season. He would then swing the ball to K.J. Buffen who had a clean look from three to tie the game, but missed with 10 seconds remaining.
Vanderbilt would then proceed to close out the game on free throws.
White, Shuler, Buffen, and Jarkel Joiner each scored at least 10 points. Shuler and White kept up their solid first half performance and finished the game combining for 42 points.
“If you’re competitive and like basketball, you love playing — and if you can’t get ready to play Kentucky, then you shouldn’t play in this league. You saw Vanderbilt (what Vanderbilt did with) not much to play for….“
Coach Kermit Davis on where the team goes from this point moving forward
Ole Miss will host the Kentucky Wildcats at The Pavilion on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT. The game will broadcast on ESPN/ESPN 2.
(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Men’s Basketball)