Ole Miss just returned home to the 662, coming off two devastating road losses by a combined six points. But, despite the lackluster record and collective groaning from the fans, the Rebs have quietly put together a decent campaign. They are currently 78th in KenPom’s rankings despite playing against the 19th toughest schedule per his defensive rankings.
So the opportunity is there. And Ole Miss didn’t waste it on Tuesday night, winning running away against Avery Johnson’s Crimson Tide team that came into the night No. 1 in defensive efficiency in the Southeastern Conference. Despite a few runs from the Tide, Ole Miss countered with some runs of their own and won by 12 in front of 8,099. And Morgan Freeman.
Collin Sexton didn’t draw the start for the Tide but led the team in shots. Fortunately for Ole Miss, he never got in rhythm and only scored seven points on 2-of-13 shooting. With Alabama’s RPI in the low 30’s, this was a big win if the Rebs have any hope of getting hot and making things interesting into March.
So how did it happen?
Deandre Burnett had a historic night.
In the first half of Ole Miss’ 78-66 win over Alabama, the Rebels honored a special occasion. Deandre Burnett became the 39th player in Ole Miss basketball history to join the 1,000 point club. After transferring from Miami, Burnett was forced to sit out a season before seeing action for the Rebels. The lack of game action didn’t slow him down, as the senior reached the 1,000 point mark in just his 80th career game.
On the night, Burnett had 24 points, four rebounds, and shot 4-of-5 from downtown. This was his 15th double digit scoring output on the season and 11th with 15 or more. He’s been a steady force for a team that’s lacked consistent scoring all year.
Shout out to season ticket holder and all-time great Morgan Freeman.
Oh, also early in the first half, the Rebels honored Morgan Freeman who recently received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but Terence Davis looks BACK.
Davis was 5-of-10 from the field and scored 15 points while adding nine rebounds. That’s Davis’ fourth double digit scoring effort in SEC play and he has dropped 45 points in his last two games.
It hasn’t just been the offensive end where Davis has come alive. He’s averaging a block and eight rebounds a game in his last five games, and we all remember his chase down block to help seal the Florida victory. His presence on the floor elevates his teammates and helps create space for Deandre Burnett and Bruce Stevens to go to work.
It’s no coincidence Ole Miss has grabbed two big home wins and played its two best road games just as Davis finds his footing.
Bruce Stevens took some hits.
Donta Hall and Braxton Key scored 21 points and grabbed 12 boards to Stevens’ four points and five rebounds. Against these two athletic big men, Stevens always had a tall task. It doesn’t get any easier Saturday when the Rebels take on Texas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Look for Stevens to have a better game and help keep the Texas defense—rated 6th nationally via KenPom—from becoming the focal point.
This win was great and all, but let’s not kid ourselves, the Rebs need a lot more like this. And they get another chance to make another tournament resume statement this Saturday when they head to Austin to take on Shaka Smart, the Longhorns (13-7, 4-4), and potential NBA lottery pick Mo Bamba.