Things looked bleak again. Then, suddenly, they didn’t anymore.
Ole Miss trailed Auburn by as much as 14 in the second half, but behind 30 points from Romello White and a buzzer-beater from Devontae Shuler in overtime, the Rebels secured an 86-84 win in Auburn Arena.
I’m not sure how to really put this into words, but here goes. Like the game on Tuesday against Tennessee, Ole Miss looked dead in the water after the intermission, but something has clicked for Kermit Davis’ crew this week. Ole Miss won a game where both teams scored in the 80s, something that was unthought of in the early stages of this season when the well-documented offensive struggles were evident. On Saturday, however, Romello White was a dominant force in the paint, and Devontae Shuler dropped 26 and looked like the leader he’s been tabbed to be. It was a sight to see.
Let’s talk about that last overtime sequence, by the way. The Rebels led by three, but after a turnover by Jarkel Joiner, Sharife Cooper, kept quiet for most of the second half, hit a game-tying three, and it looked like we were destined for double OT. Like I said, however, something clicked this week for the Rebels, and Shuler took a contested shot as time expired and drilled it. The officials put 0.2 seconds on the clock after the shot as a formality, but it didn’t matter. Ole Miss picked up the road win, swept the season series over Auburn and finished the week 2-0 with a ranked win over No. 11 Tennessee.
Ole Miss has a tough road if it wants to get back into the tournament conversation as the season hits the home stretch (including home and road dates with nationally-ranked Missouri), but it showed this week that with the right kind of performance, it can win different styles of games. That’s important as they try to boost their postseason resume.
Again, my hopes aren’t incredibly high that the Rebels will be able to backdoor their way into the big dance, but this week kept that revived hope alive, even if it is on life support. This team has looked different this week, and maybe that’s a momentum they can build on.
Ole Miss will host No. 18 Missouri next Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network followed by a road date with South Carolina on Saturday at 5.