Rebels’ Four-Game Win Streak Snapped by State, 66-56
OXFORD, Miss. –The Ole Miss Men’s Basketball team entered this weekend on a four-game win streak as they hosted arch rival, Mississippi State in The Pavilion. The Rebels were also undefeated in the month of February — until Saturday’s game which State won, 66-56.
Ole Miss now falls to 12-9 (7-7 SEC), which currently has the Rebels sitting in seventh place in the SEC standings. Mississippi State improves to 12-11 (6-8 SEC) and is currently sitting in ninth place in the SEC.
The loss slims their chances of making the bubble, but winning four of their last five games is still impressive. Especially when two of those teams (Tennessee & Missouri) were ranked in the top 10 at the time of both contests. The Rebels still have time to bounce back with three more (scheduled) games to play before their regular season is over.
“Give Ben and his team a lot of credit, they beat us in every area. I smelt that one coming the last couple days, we’ve been good in practice but not like we were and I knew what team we were going to play tonight.” Kermit Davis on Mississippi State.
Early in the game it seemed like the Rebels were lacking some much-needed energy and sense of urgency. State was able to gain momentum by making close shots and by controlling the paint.
Ole Miss struggled to find shots at the start of the game and at times looked sloppy on the offensive side of the ball, while State was shooting efficiently and playing solid defense from the get-go. Rebels’ point guard Shuler was 0-6 from the field to start the game.
Despite the offensive struggles in the first half, however, the game was still within reach at half as Ole Miss went into the locker room only down six, 25-31.
“We don’t talk about shooting woes at halftime. All I do is look at the quality of the shot(s), and if the quality of the shot is good then we like it. I thought the quality of the shot(s) was good, maybe not great but you know we got to finish some balls.“
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis on first-half shooting struggles
To start the second half, Romello White scored the first points with an easy two points in the paint. Then on the ensuing possession, Jarkel Joiner would get a chance to bring the deficit down back to two, but his layup was emphatically rejected by D.J. Stewart.
Although early in second period, it may have been the turning point for the Rebels.
Ole Miss’ shooting struggles from the first half carried into the second. The Rebels were shooting just under 40% from the field 10 minutes into the half.
Despite trailing by double digits at multiple moments in the second half, the game really didn’t feel far out of reach because Ole Miss was able to go on a few short runs to bring the game close. Unfortunately, it seemed like almost every time that happened, State had a response and the Bulldogs would end up securing the 10-point win, 66-56.
The Bulldogs did an excellent job of not only limiting Shuler in the first half, but completely shutting him down in the second. The senior struggled mightily, finishing the game shooting 1-15 from the field with four points along with two assists and three rebounds. In the previous four games, Shuler had not failed to reach at least 15 points once and had efficient shooting splits in those contests.
Regardless, I fully expect Devontae to finish off the regular season of his senior year strong, and I think his role will continue to grow because that’s just who he is.
The Rebels announced last Sunday they were adding a game against LSU the following Wednesday, but that contest got pushed back to Thursday after a snowstorm hit Oxford. Ultimately the game was postponed altogether due to weather conditions, giving the Rebels a six-day gap between their last game and Saturday’s Mississippi State game.
Coach Davis was asked if he felt the long break contributed to his team’s shooting woes.
“No I don’t think so, Mississippi State had the same (break). They shot 48 (percent from the field); we shot 39 (percent from the field). They beat us to 50/50 balls, I thought that was a big difference in the game.”
Coach Kermit Davis
Ole Miss will be traveling for a rematch with the No.20 Missouri Tigers on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT. The game will broadcast on the SEC Network.
CATCH UP WITH BASEBALL
The basketball team wasn’t the only Ole Miss athletics team to play yesterday, catch up with the baseball team’s opening day victory at TCU on Saturday here.
(Feature image credit courtesy of Ole Miss Men’s Basketball.)