Rebels’ season ends with 70-55 loss to Tennessee at SEC Tournament
NASHVILLE – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team’s stay in Nashville came to an end Thursday afternoon in a 70-55 loss to the No. 5-seed Tennessee Volunteers in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
The loss ends the Rebels’ tumultuous 2022-23 season, but they went down fighting like they have all season. They finish the season with four SEC wins (tournament included), which matches last season’s mark, and 12 wins overall, one fewer than last season.
Ole Miss’ leading scorer was forward Myles Burns with 14 points along with three steals, totaling nine for the tournament. Forward Jaemyn Brakefield once again scored in double-figures with 12 points.
Guard Matthew Murrell finished with 12 points on 4-14 shooting and 2-7 from three-point range. Guard Amaree Abram, after making a career-high five threes in round one against South Carolina, had a quiet performance with seven points and one three-point make.
In the first half, the Rebels were able to keep up with a scoring flurry from the Volunteers. Ole Miss answered seven Volunteer threes with five of its own, and the Rebs did not allow a single free-throw attempt in the half. However, Ole Miss finished the half on a 2:29 scoring drought, which gave the Volunteers a six-point lead heading into the break, 39-33.
The Volunteers reasserted themselves as the No. 1 defensive team in the country in the second half, holding the Rebels to 22 points and 33% shooting in the half. The Rebels were not able to hold a lead in the entire second half.
Ole Miss outscored the Volunteers by 15 points on the fast break (17-2) while also only turning the ball over seven times for the game, leading to 19 points and outscoring the Volunteers by 10 in that department. However, these stats were moot as the half-court defense by the Volunteers was the highlight in the Rebel loss.
Overall, Ole Miss put together a 38%-shooting performance, including 35% from three-point range, with only one of the Rebels’ seven threes coming in the second half.
The Volunteers finished shooting 47% from the field with 10 three-pointers. They ended with more free-throw makes and attempts than the Rebels, as the Rebels shot 8-12 for the game and the Volunteers shot 12-14 after no attempts in the first half.
Part of the game plan coming into the game for Ole Miss was stopping Tennessee at the three-point line, and Rebel interim head coach Win Case said his team struggled to defend the Volunteers from beyond the arc.
“That is something that we never could corral. I thought that was a big part in (Tennessee) winning the basketball game.”
Ole Miss interim head coach Win Case after the loss
Case also said scoring droughts that have plagued the team throughout the season plagued them once again in the second half.
“We just could not make timely shots,” Case said. “We knew good shots would be hard to find because Tennessee is such an exceptional defensive team.”
Despite the loss, Case was very proud of the way his team, especially the seniors, fought in the game and to end the season.
“I want to tell my seniors that I am so proud of them. I absolutely love them because they gave me everything that they got every single day in practice, every game, and tonight was no different.”
Coach Win Case
The Rebels will now enter the offseason amid a head-coaching search, with former Texas head coach Chris Beard as the leading candidate for the position. It will be the first offseason without Kermit Davis at the helm in five years.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Trevor is a senior at Ole Miss pursuing a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Sports Communication and Promotion. He has previous experience covering sports for another site, including a variety of Ole Miss sports. Growing up in New Orleans, La., he has the Pelicans and Saints running through his blood. He also grew up in an LSU family, but his love for Ole Miss continues to grow. Trevor hopes to cover sports back in his hometown after college. Laissez les bons temps rouler!