Top ten Tennessee either came in over-confident or Ole Miss played its most motivated basketball of the season as the Rebels fell 63-59 to the Volunteers on Wednesday.
Ole Miss (8-5, 0-1 SEC) led at halftime by six points, but its offense stalled and scored only 14 points in the first 13:30 of the second half as Tennessee came back to build a small lead. Jaemyn Brakefield stepped up offensively early scoring 18 points on perfect shooting behind the arc, but later in the game, the Rebels seemed to push the offense through a struggling Matthew Murrell (5 points, 1-11 FG).
The other trend emerging in the last month is the uncertainty around Daeshun Ruffin’s health and role on this team. Ruffin did not start though he did contribute nine points in limited time on the court including a late three that gave Ole Miss life with less than two minutes to play. The point guard hailing from Mississippi is coming off an ACL tear recovery and a preseason injury, but it seems evident he is not 100 percent or maybe lost some minutes to freshman Amaree Abram.
Tennessee was led by Santiago Vescovi who scored 22 points with only one other Vol in double digits in points.
This was truly not a game many expected Ole Miss to come close to winning, however, it’s clear this squad will give visiting teams a hard time in the Pavilion. It was at least encouraging to see a close game, but it’s not likely a sign of a team ready to go on a tear through the SEC.