Ole Miss Beats Kentucky, 70-62
OXFORD, Miss– The Ole Miss men’s basketball team bounced back in a big way against Kentucky on Tuesday, defeating the Wildcats, 70-62. The Rebels have now won five of their last seven games.
The win also snapped the Wildcats’ 11-game win streak against the Rebels, and it becomes Ole Miss’ first victory since February 1, 2011 against the Kentucky men’s basketball team.
The Rebels now improve to 14-10 (9-8 SEC) and still sit in sixth place in the SEC. The Kentucky Wildcats fall to 8-15 (7-9 SEC) and are currently in ninth place in the SEC.
Right now the Rebels are on the outside looking in with regard to the March Madness picture. However, they still have a chance with the SEC tournament right around the corner, starting March 11. If they manage to win the SEC tournament, they’re in. This year we’ve seen that anything can happen in college basketball, so don’t completely rule them out yet.
In the early stages of the game the Rebels were able to lock down the Wildcats, only allowing them to score 12 points in the first 10 minutes. Then the Wildcats started to catch some steam and were able to keep up with Ole Miss.
Despite only forcing four first-half turnovers from Kentucky, the Rebels still contested most shots and suffocated them with Kermit Davis’ signature 1-3-1 defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ole Miss shot the ball effectively, hitting 48% from the field, 60% from three, and 83.3% from the free throw line.
Kentucky, on the other hand, shot 35.7% from the field, 28.6% from three, and 58.3% from the free throw line. Despite the shooting woes for the Wildcats, they still only trailed by three points going into intermission.
Coming out of the half, the Rebels continued their hot shooting night. Ole Miss would shoot 5-8 (62.5%) from three-point range in the second half, bringing their total three-point shooting up to 60%. It was the Rebels’ best three-point shooting night of the season, topping their 40% from three performance against Missouri.
Sophomore forward Sammy Hunter contributed much in the game for Ole Miss. Coming off the bench, he made two important free throws and 3 threes. Hunter had a career high in points and minutes with 11 points in 20 minutes of play.
“The game kind of was getting away a little bit, he just made some critical shots to kind of get the game back going again. (And) you know that’s what we recruited him, we saw a guy who could really pick & pop as a four man. It was just great that he made the shots in this kind of game…. so happy for him because he’s almost like Jarkel, he’s in that gym all the time and took advantage of a great opportunity.“
Kermit Davis on Sammy Hunter
Sammy’s extended minutes were possible because of the foul trouble that Romello White and K.J. Buffen found themselves in. Even though both were in foul trouble (and K.J. fouled out), they each still managed to secure a double-double. Buffen finished with 16 points along with 10 rebounds, while Romello notched 11 points with 10 rebounds. Both shot over 50% from the field.
Senior Devontae Shuler was also able to help close the game out with some clutch free throws. Shuler finished with a game-high 17 points on 60% shooting along with 7 assists. He also didn’t miss a three, going 3/3.
Coach Davis also announced during his press conference on Thursday that forward Khadim Sy and guard Dimencio Vaughn have both left the team. Davis said they left due to personal reasons. Kermit along with all of us, wish them the best!
Ole Miss will be hosting Vanderbilt (rematch) at The Pavilion on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. CT for their regular season finale. The game will broadcast on the SEC Network.
(Feature image credit courtesy of Ole Miss Men’s Basketball.)