After a first half in which Auburn tore apart Ole Miss’ defense and the Rebels went through scoreless stretches of 7:08 and 3:27*, the only drama that appeared to remain when half number two started was whether or not Bruce Pearl’s shirt would be totally saturated with the sweat of a cookout-denying expert. However, instead of watching Auburn coast to a blowout win, Ole Miss decided to get woke as hell in the second half and stormed back from a 23-point deficit, earning a 90-84 win.
*Yes, friends, that’s over 10 minutes of non-scoring action in a single half of basketball from the home team. #SECBasketballFever, you are a hateful bastard.
Thanks to a defense that stopped watching Auburn score with ease and an offense that came to life with Terence Davis’ career-high 26 points (all of which came in the second half), and 20 points from Cullen Neal, Ole Miss outscored the Tigers 63-37 in the final 20 minutes. Unfortunately for our emotional states, the Rebels didn’t erase Auburn’s 20-point lead in the first minute of the second half (I WANT IT NOW) and actually allowed the Tigers to extend the lead to 23 with 18:53 to go in the game. Then they took their SWEET TIME and needed just under 14 minutes to erase all that hard work by the Tigers.
After going down 23, Ole Miss began a series of steady chopping actions (plz do not sue us for copyright infringement, football coaches) over the next seven minutes. They eventually cut the lead to 10 on a Davis dunk with 11:50 to play and set the stage for Auburn’s impending meltdown. Less than two minutes later, Davis’ layup brought the Rebels to within two and increased Auburn’s psychological terror by 200 percent.
Remarkably, Auburn didn’t collapse right away. For the next four minutes, the Tigers wobbled around before a Neal three-pointer with 5:05 to play gave Ole Miss the lead for good.
However, because this is Ole Miss and it’s never easy, twice Auburn cut Ole Miss’ lead, which was as high as seven in the last two minutes, to two points in the final minute, but the Rebels countered by going 12-12 at the free throw line in the final 1:17 (Deandre Burnett hit 10-10) to hold off any last charge from the Tigers.
It was the largest comeback by an Ole Miss men’s basketball team since 2010, when the Rebels inflicted similar emotional damage to Alabama. Now our neighbors to the east have something to bond over other than hollerin’ at Finebaum.
Here are three takeaways from this bit of unexpected insanity on Saturday.
Do that more often, Terence Davis and Cullen Neal
With Deandre Burnett trying to find his way out of whatever funk he’s in (or possibly trying to get more healthy) and Breein Tyre having the standard freshman ups and downs, Ole Miss needs guards to take the offensive burden off of Sebastian Saiz. One of the many reasons Ole Miss trailed by 20 at half was its guard play.
Tyree, Burnett, Neal, Davis, and Rasheed Brooks combined for 3-of-18 shooting in the first half. Lightly used Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey was Ole Miss’ best shooting guard in that period, with a 2-of-5 effort.
In the second half, things dramatically improved for the Rebels because Neal and Davis teamed up to go 15-of-21 from the floor (is that good?). And let’s not discount Neal’s five second-half assists, several of which were wonderful passes at the rim to either Davis or Marcanvis Hymon.
Whatever success remains in Ole Miss’ season rests with consistent guard play and production, as well as non-miserable defense.
Speaking of, defense is a good thing
In the first half, Auburn shot 58 percent, including 8 of 13 (61.5 percent) from three, on their way to 47 points, which could’ve been more had they not turned it over nine times. In the second half, things went south for the Tigers, as they tumbled to 40.5 percent from the floor, 31.3 percent from three, and 11 turnovers.
Did Andy Kennedy say anything at halftime that lit a fire under his team’s effort?
AK on what he said at halftime:— Brian Scott Rippee (@bsrippee) February 12, 2017
"Ehh, it's overrated. You couldn't use it anyway unless you're on Cinemax"
AK AFTER DARK.
How many in a row over Auburn is that?
According to my math, it’s the same number of times the guy in the orange pullover stands up if you watch this 10 times: