Ole Miss Rebels defeated the LSU Tigers with a final score of 96-76. The Rebels improved to 16-10 on the season, while the Tigers fell to 9-16. The Rebels remained in a heated battle early on with the Tigers and found themselves trailing at the half 47-44. Ole Miss bounced back and took control in the second half due to the efforts of Terence Davis, Deandre Burnett and Sebastian Saiz.
“What a crazy game we played. LSU leads for 25 minutes of the game. I thought they got fatigued and the 1-3-1 defense finally got effective for us at the end, and we were so much more effective on the offensive end in the second half. Twenty-one assists on 33 made field goals shows that we were sharing the ball,” Andy Kennedy said.
The increased attention to detail was the key for the Rebels in the second half, as they stopped the Tiger offense that shot 55 percent(18-33) from the floor in the first half but ended the night shooting 43 percent(25-58). The team turned up the intensity on the defensive end and found a way to fizzle out LSU’s Antonio Blakeney, who scored 22 points in the opening half but ended the game with only 29 points, only converting on 1-5 shots from the floor in the second half.
“The grind is real, and it’s throughout college basketball,” Kennedy said. “The teams that can continue to stay the course win games such as this. You have to protect your home court, and if we would have done that throughout the entire season, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in.”
Davis followed up his 26-point performance at Auburn with 33 in this game as he continues to trend upward as the year goes on. Burnett added 15 points of his own. Davis has served as a spark for an Ole Miss team that has struggled to score the basketball at times this year. If the Rebels–who are now 16-10 and 7-6 in SEC play–want to make a run at the postseason, look no further than Davis to be the driving force behind that.
Saiz continued his impressive play and finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
“Basketball is mostly a rhythm game. You get a rhythm like Blakeney had in the first half. Once you get a rhythm going, it’s hard to stop that,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get four of the remaining games and make some noise in the SEC Tournament.”
The Rebels have NCAA Tournament hopes in their eyes now as they look to close out the season strong. The team is aware of its situation and knows it cannot afford to drop many games. With a strong finish in the regular season and a solid SEC tournament outing, Ole Miss could find itself going dancing in March, but there is still a lot of work left to do. The Rebels play away next as they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (18-7) Saturday at 5 p.m.