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Ole Miss hoops handle business in 66-49 win over Bradley

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A workman-like win.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley put up a fight for about ten minutes in Oxford on Monday, but in the end Andy Kennedy’s men enforced their will and came away with a win over the Braves, 66-49. Terence Davis and Cullen Neal led all Rebel scorers with 19 and 12 points, respectively.

The Rebs dictated the game’s pace in the early going, but still only managed a seven point lead midway through the first half. From there, a spirited dunk-and-one from Justas Furmanavicius sparked other scorers to wake up, and Ole Miss carried a 38-19 advantage into halftime.

Ole Miss picked up right where they left off in the second half, holding Bradley to just three points through the half’s first five minutes. From there, the ending was a mere formality.

Here are three things we learned from the Rebs’ win in Oxford.

The defense was clicking all night.

A liability for stretches of this young season, Ole Miss’ defensive sets on Monday went strikingly well, especially out along the perimeter where the Rebs have been getting burned. Things were going so well that AK pulled out the 1-3-1 trap, which has spent most of its time on the shelf this year.

Rebel defenders harried Bradley all night and accrued nine turnovers in the first half. They piled on for more in the second frame, forcing a total of 17 turnovers and 13 steals from the Braves. 18 Rebel points were the direct result of Bradley turnovers, and Ole Miss owned the night’s rebounding advantage, 41-36.

AK continues to tool with his personnel.

Kennedy didn’t give the start to Deandre Burnett, who according to the broadcast found himself in his coach’s doghouse due to a lack of effort. The SEC’s third leading scorer thus came off the bench and played a relatively quiet game. The change recalls AK’s decision to go with Breein Tyree to run the point over Cullen Neal, who had been given the starting job through the first six games.

With Kennedy still trying out different platoons, then, one constant has been the emergence of Terence Davis as an absolute terror with the ball in his hands. He apparently learned his lesson from the failed 360 breakaway dunk attempt a couple weeks ago, because he’s finished all such plays since.

Sebastian Saiz was dominant on both ends of the floor.

The big Spaniard is not a traditional center, inasmuch as his handles are pretty good, his footwork allows for larger mobility and more court coverage, and he averages 33 minutes per game — the most for a single player in the conference.

Saiz needed just 26 minutes on the floor to notch his double-double for the evening, ending with 10 points and 13 boards. He also blocked six shots, a career high for the big man. The SEC leader in rebounds, and Kennedy has to be thrilled that his big senior is having a career season in his last year on the team.