Myles Burns Leads Ole Miss Past UT Martin, 72-68
OXFORD, Miss. — Was it the prettiest win this Ole Miss team has notched? No, but a win is a win — and at the end of the day, head coach Kermit Davis’ Rebels got the job done. With the 72-68 win over UT Martin Friday night, Ole Miss improves to 3-0.
“Give UT Martin a ton of credit,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis.
“(UT Martin head coach) Ryan (Ridder) did a great job preparing his team. We got out-coached, we got out-physicaled for a long period of time. They looked like the SEC team around the goal, and we didn’t. Finishing balls, going back and chasing 50-50 balls. With that being said, I’m proud of our team and the way we find ways to win games. We’ve got a lot of character, a lot of good guys on our team.“
Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis after the win over UT Martin
It was the final test for the Rebs before they head to Orlando for the ESPN Events Invitational. At the end of the day, finishing with the victory is what matters. However, there are some takeaways from this one.
UT Martin made Ole Miss pay early on by consistently hitting tough shots and setting the tone physically. At the half, the Skyhawks were leading 39-32 behind six three-pointers. Five of these came from the combination of Parker Stewart and Desmo Williams. Additionally, UT Martin out-rebounded Ole Miss 21-16 in the first half.
The Rebels struggled offensively in the first half behind a 36% FG percentage on 12-33 shooting. The offense was pushed out farther due to some UT Martin pressure.
The hole left from the absence of Daeshun Ruffin due to injury has Ole Miss using the duo of Amaree Abram and TJ Caldwell as point guard options. In the first half, Abram racked up two fouls and was limited to playing only seven minutes. Ole Miss was scrapping to get into sets consistently and a couple of scoring droughts occurred.
After mustering up 32 points in the first half, Ole Miss needed to settle down. UT Martin had seemingly dictated most of the contest; however, Ole Miss would find its defensive rhythm early in the second half.
Coach Davis went back to his patented 1-3-1 defense. Largely on the back of Myles Burns, Ole Miss forced 12 turnovers in the second half. Seven of those twelve occurred within the first eight minutes of the half. During this time, Ole Miss would go on a 17-2 run that would give the Rebels the lead.
Ole Miss would hold that lead for the rest of the game and at one point was up by double digits. However, the Skyhawks would come back and bring it to a two-point game with merely seconds left. Behind some clutch free throw shooting from Robert Allen and TJ Caldwell, the Rebels would prevail.
Ole Miss finished the contest shooting 39% from the field (21-54). Matthew Murrell (16 pts) and Myles Burns (13 Pts) were the only Rebels to score in double figures. Burns would also lead the Rebels with eight rebounds as well.
An area for improvement comes in the turnover margin where Ole Miss committed 17 turnovers while only assisting on 12 of their 21 field goals. The Rebels would take advantage on the glass in the second half (23 to 13), and that would lead Ole Miss to win the overall rebounding battle, 41-34.
The Skyhawks would finish shooting 45% from the field (26-58). Four of their players scored in double figures, as they were led by Parker Stewart who finished with 13. With the loss, UT Martin falls to 2-3 on the year.
Myles Burns Willed Ole Miss Back
If a player finishes with a stat line of 13/8/5, one would think that was a really well-rounded game. And when you realize that five comes from the steals category, you see the two-way impact the player really made on a game. That was the case for Myles Burns tonight.
“Myles Burns was elite,” Davis said.
“I’ve had some great ones at the top of that zone, but at an early start he’s about as great as I’ve ever seen getting hands on balls and being able to create offense from that.“
Coach Davis on Myles Burns
Standing at 6’6″ with long arms and quick hands, Burns can find opportunities to jump into a lane or pick someone’s pocket. As many may know, Burns came to Ole Miss after spending four seasons playing at NAIA Loyola New Orleans. While there, he was a force defensively and racked up the most steals in all of college basketball that season.
Add in the five steals as part of tonight’s performance, and Burns is in the top-20 nationally in the NCAA for steals. Tonight, however it wasn’t just that he had five steals — it was when and how he got them.
Ole Miss needed a defensive rally to slow down UT Martin after an impressive first half from the Skyhawks. When man-to-man isn’t working, Coach Davis tends to go to 13 to get that rally. Burns is the best defensive piece to be atop that 1-3-1 in his tenure at Ole Miss.
Burns set the tone on forcing those 12 second-half turnovers and those seven during the 17-2 run. His defense directly corresponded to easy points on the other end to help give the Ole Miss the win.
He was the spark the Rebels needed tonight. The win won’t have a big effect on Ole Miss’ potential tournament resume; however, a loss surely would have. Myles Burns was a huge reason why that blemish isn’t there.
Ole Miss went 25-38 from the line tonight. That is good for a 66% mark. This, unfortunately, meant the Rebels left a lot of potential points on the board. However, the real issue in this lies more on when they missed these free throws.
While getting to the line 38 times is certainly a positive, Ole Miss needs to convert down the stretch. In the final twelve minutes, the Rebs accumulated eight of their 13 missed FT’s. This opportunity gave UT Martin the chance to creep back into the game. If Ole Miss converts some more of those FT’s, the game never gets as nerve-wracking towards the end.
Ole Miss (4-0) now travels to Orlando for the ESPN Events Invitational.
“Really proud of our win,” Davis said.
“Told our team, there’s not a lot of teams in basketball that’s 4-0, and to be proud of that. We know where we are, and where we have to get to every single day.“
In Florida, the Rebels’ first power five opponent awaits them as they play Stanford on Thanksgiving.
The Cardinal currently are 2-2 with losses to San Diego State and Wisconsin. Predicted to finish somewhere in the upper part of the PAC-12, Stanford is a good early-season NET contest for Ole Miss.
After that opening game, the Rebels will play the winner/loser of the contest between Florida State and Siena. We will be there to give you more coverage from The Rebel Walk, so be sure to follow along here and on all of our social media.
(Feature image credit: Ole Miss men’s basketball)
TJ Oxley is a current MBA student at Ole Miss after having earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toledo. He currently covers college hoops and the NBA Draft for the Basketball Society as well as all things Ole Miss for The Rebel Walk.