Breein Tyree is officially a hero. The undersized guard drove hard to the rim to push Ole Miss ahead, 79-77, in the closing seconds of Saturday’s rivalry bout in Starkville, and in so doing spurred an upset win over No. 14 Mississippi State, 81-77. That makes two top-25 upsets in the span of one week, perhaps the most successful seven-day span in the last six years.
The first 10 minutes of this affair dictated how the rest of the afternoon would play out. Breein Tyree took a hard screen directly to his left shoulder and left briefly to get looked at in the locker room. Ole Miss described the injury as a shoulder sprain, but he was able to return in short order. Blake Hinson subsequently dove at a contested rebound then got tangled with Nick Weatherspoon and the wrestling match was on.
Hinson led all Rebel scorers with 26 points, while Tyree chipped in 29 of his own.
The Rebs deteriorated through the middle stretch of the first half, allowing 14 straight Mississippi State points, which were helped along by fast breaks, offensive rebounds, and outside shooting. That run lasted for four minutes, and it audibly turned up the Hump’s animosity against the visitors by an order of 11.
Still, credit to Kermit Davis and especially Hinson and Devontae Shuler for re-establishing composure and fighting back to bring the proceedings to a 41-39 advantage for CLANGA at the half. It could have been far worse.
The second half continued apace, with both sides’ shooters finding the net from range and down low. True frosh Hinson caught fire early with a corner three from the left pocket, while Abdul Ado took over on the Bulldogs’ end with a loud put-back.
The Rebs gained their first lead since 10 minutes into the first half with 12 to go in the second on the strength of a Bruce Stevens three from the top of the key. The sparked a bit of a run that would see the Rebs stretch out to a 65-60 game before Ben Howland had seen enough.
Devontae Shuler can and should grow his game.
The most glaring weakness in Shuler’s game right now is accuracy, and especially out around the arc. Perhaps because of Tyree’s injury, or perhaps by design, Kermit Davis tasked Shuler with running the one spot on Saturday, and he distributed well, defended like he always does, and didn’t foul anyone.
But if Shuler can build in a more accurate shooting eye, he will grow to be an Ole Miss legend.
Ole Miss is a top 25 team.
The Rebs rank No. 28 in the NCAA’s newly adopted NET ratings. They’ve whacked arguably a top-10 Auburn and now a top-15 Mississippi State. They’re undefeated in conference play and they just came through the toughest week of their schedule totally unscathed.
Let us repeat: Ole Miss is a top 25 team.