Remember when I pronounced this team dead on Saturday? Yeah, me either.
Ole Miss apparently didn’t take kindly to my tomfoolery over the weekend via the written word and decided to knock off No. 11 Tennessee at home on Tuesday night in response. The Rebels trailed by as much as 11 in the second half but stormed back and held on to win an instant classic in Oxford.
How? Why? What? No idea.
I wasn’t alone in thinking this team had no pulse. If you looked at the remaining SEC schedule, an abysmal finish wasn’t out of the question, but now, Ole Miss has picked up a win over a ranked opponent for the first time since knocking off No. 14 Mississippi State in Starkville in 2019. This team is certainly unpredictable, but tonight, everything came together at the right time.
Sure, it wasn’t super high scoring, but Romello White and Devontae Shuler got buckets when they needed to. And shoutout to Robert Allen, man. He played a key role in K.J. Buffen’s absence, especially down the stretch. Even though he only had four points, he made some key free throws late in the second half and secured some boards as well.
Oh, and Luis Rodriguez did this.
That was nasty @OleMissMBB #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/sNpWPrBTlz— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 3, 2021
Shuler led the team with 15 points, followed by White with 14, his first double-digit scoring performance in five games. Shuler, White and Luis Rodriguez combined for 19 rebounds.
The Rebels only shot 25 percent from three (3-of-12) and 39.2 percent overall, but it was the Rebel defense that gave the Vols fits, especially the 1-3-1. For the most part, Tennessee lacked an answer for it once they crossed half court, and it gave the Rebels an opportunity to climb back into the game and secure the win.
Even with only 52 points, it was the clutch shots that mattered for the Rebels in the end. A strong put-back by Robert Allen gave Ole Miss a five-point lead with 56 seconds remaining, followed by a Volunteer three. What followed was Tennessee splitting its free throws, Robert Allen splitting his free throws and Ole Miss getting a stop as time expired. Before the three-pointer from the Vols, Ole Miss held its visitors to more than 12 minutes without making a field goal. Efficient, iyam.
What does this mean for the future of the season? To be frank, I have no idea. I’m not going to say that this team can make some magical run back into tournament contention, but perhaps I was premature saying the season was dead. Maybe we all were.
It doesn’t get easy for Ole Miss down the stretch. Here’s their remaining schedule:
- 2/6 — at Auburn
- 2/10 — No. 18 Missouri
- 2/13 — at South Carolina
- 2/20 — Mississippi State
- 2/23 — at No. 18 Missouri
- 2/27 — at Vanderbilt
- 3/2 — Kentucky
In case you were curious, Auburn fell to Georgia 91-86 on Tuesday night as well, but this is a different Auburn team since they regained Sharife Cooper on the hardwood. But if Tuesday taught us anything, it’s that college basketball, especially this season, is unpredictable in the SEC. Can Ole Miss steal one on the Plains on Saturday and keep the momentum rolling?
Tip-off between the Rebels and Tigers is slated for 3 p.m. on ESPN2.
P.S. lest we forget, may this GIF live forever.