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Ole Miss lost to Tennessee in excruciating fashion


NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss fans have every right to be mad about this loss.

Blame crucial calls down the stretch or a significant foul disparity, but find some way to come to grips with the fact that the last 18 seconds of the Ole Miss-Tennessee game was volatile, drunk and awful.

The Rebels lost 73-71 in excruciating fashion to No. 7 Tennessee on Tuesday night. The game was ultimately decided by a charge call in the final seconds, with Devontae Shuler running into the Vols’ Admiral Schofield while heaving up a shot that went hard off the backboard.

There are plenty of fans out there that feel that if the shoe was on the other foot, and Tennessee needed a block call, they would have received a block call.

Maybe that’s true, and maybe it’s just a good way to feel better about the outcome. What is true though is that head coach Kermit Davis in his first year in Oxford has made Ole Miss basketball relevant again, took a 12-win team from last season and transformed them into capable giant slayers taking a top 10 team to the wire.

Much of the focus for this game, however, was prior to tip-off to see if members of the Rebel basketball team would kneel for a consecutive game during the national anthem. Eight players knelt during the playing of the anthem Saturday in a showing of defiance to a confederate rally and march being held in Oxford and on the Ole Miss campus.

No players kneeled, however, further cementing what guard Breein Tyree said in post-game comments about why they protested. It truly was about the confederate rally and march, and they proved that by standing Wednesday.

Tyree, in game, stood tall by knocking down 16 points alongside senior guard Terence Davis, who led the team with 16. Davis scored two of the most memorable points of the game early on with a posterizing dunk with around 10 minutes left in the first half to knot the game at 13.

Ole Miss and Tennessee were in a back and forth battle from there on with the Rebels leading at the half by five, only to end up clinging to a three point lead late, 71-68. A Jordan Bowden jumper made it 71-70, then a quick foul sent Ole Miss’ free throw leader, Tyree to the line in seemingly a game clinching situation.

Tyree missed the front end of a one-and-one, however, and Tennessee’s Mr. Everything Grant Williams split defenders on the other end while traveling to ultimately score the game-winning basket. Yes, it’s painful to relive, but the Rebels after the game were already looking to move on.

“Everybody’s heartbroken in that locker room,” Davis said. “But we’ve got to come back tomorrow, put that away, and get ready for Arkansas on Saturday.”

The Rebels next game is in the far stretches of northwest Arkansas against a Razorbacks team that also just saw its best chance for a high profile upset go empty as well. Arkansas dropped a four-point game to No. 4 Kentucky 70-66 earlier this week.

Ole Miss and Arkansas will tip at noon on Saturday.