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Deandre Burnett and Bruce Stevens lead comeback over the Gators, Rebs win by 6

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Tournament resume statement win: check

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

The Rebels missed their leading scorer Tuesday in Auburn.

Dearly.

After leading by 10 at halftime Ole Miss was blown out in the second half against the Tigers. But, they were missing a key piece. Deandre Burnett’s importance to the team had never been more obvious as he leads a ferocious comeback and the good guys (10-7, 3-2) take down a talented Gators (12-5, 4-1) team, 78-72 at The Pavilion.

Coming home with to face former Reb Mike White and his Gators, ahead of trips to College Station, Fayetteville, and Austin, Ole Miss had to have a win. The Rebels trailed by a basket most of the game and when Andy Kennedy called a timeout with just under 13 minutes remaining in the game, Florida had stretched the lead to eight. With their season seemingly on the line, Ole Miss answered with back-to-back threes and finished the game outscoring the Gators 34-20.

The Rebels needed this win and so did this fanbase. Here’s what we learned:

Bruce Stevens had his breakout game.

The junior college transfer from Louin, Miss. had been inconsistent through the non-conference slate.

He did score 27 points in a loss to Illinois State, but followed that up with just four against Texas A&M. With just 23 points in his first three SEC games, it looked like that might continue.

Not anymore.

Against the Gators, Stevens dropped 22 points, had six rebounds and a pair of steals. He’s now 33 of his last 40 from the free throw line, which will be a big part of his game going forward, and he is looking like a man on a mission in the post. When a big man can be counted on to hit 75 percent or more from the line, that can be the difference in 11-7 and 7-11 in the SEC.

Ole Miss needs Deandre Burnett.

After missing the game against Auburn, Ole Miss was in need of a spark. Breein Tyree was averaging 19 points entering the game against Florida but missed all four of his shots and only scored three points. Ole Miss needed someone to carry the load and the senior stepped up big time.

Burnett took just eight field goals, but hit three from long range and seven of his eight free throws to pour in 20 points. He ran the point efficiently, gathering six assists and turning the ball over just twice against a team rated 51st in adjusted defense.

Free Throws are Free.

Ole Miss got to the free throw line 26 times Saturday and made 22 of them. That 85 percent clip was the difference in the game and the highest since they were 12-of-14 against Bradley. Of the six players that got to the line, none of them missed more than one charity shot. The Rebels rank 157th nationally from the line, but Saturday’s performance means the right guys were getting to the line.

Ole Miss enters its toughest four game stretch of the season, with trips to Texas A&M and Arkansas coming up. They’ll welcome lottery pick Collin Sexton and the Crimson Tide before taking on fellow lottery pick Mo Bamba and Texas in Austin for the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

The Rebels needed a win today to keep NCAA tournament hopes alive. Beating Mike White was just icing on the cake.

Terence Davis is struggling. But the effort is still there.

According to our very own Gray Hardison, our son Terence is shooting just 8-for-46 in his last five games. That’s a SMOCKIN’ 17 percent from the floor.

Not great, Bob.

But the man is still out there hustling.

Gray did have a nice nugget to offset his own one about how poor his shooting stroke has been lately.

Despite the poor shooting, he is a factor on the defensive end, in transition, and on the glass. Shooters go through slumps, and there’s no doubt he is going through one now. But, he will come out of it like all shooters do.

And even though he wasn’t filling it up like his usually self, he still chipped in 8 points, 7(!) defensive rebounds, and managed to only get three fouls. This is progress, y’all!

Until then, keep sending folks back to the drawing board with those swats, T.D.!

And as we always do, here is your advanced box score:

Four Factors Box Score

Andy Kennedy and Co. return to action Tuesday in College Station a struggling Texas A&M team (11-5, 0-4). Billy Kennedy’s club came out the dressing room firing on all cylinders, winning their first game of the year against now-No. 2 West Virginia, and racing to a 11-1 start. Now, they’ve lost four in a row in conference and are desperate for a W.

See ya Tuesday.