Ole Miss took care of business in its non-conference matchup against the Bradley Braves, notching its second victory in a row and improving to 8-3 on the season with a final score of 66-49. The outcome of this game was never in question as the Rebels took the lead with 18:11 to play in the first half and never looked back. The defensive pressure from the Rebels contributed largely to their victory as they forced the Braves to commit 17 turnovers.
“Defensively, I thought we were outstanding. We didn’t give them anything free. The 1-3-1 was effective. Turnovers still. We eliminated extra rotations. We tried to simplify things, and I think our guys responded,” head coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Rebels were led on the night by the emerging sophomore star Terence Davis with 19 points and senior leader Sebastian Saiz with 10 points and hammered the glass with 13 rebounds. Davis impressed with 8/13 shooting from the floor and 3/6 from three pointers. Saiz continued his dominant and consistent play for the Rebels as he notched his sixth double-double of the season. Neal and Brooks also contributed for Ole Miss with 12 points and nine points respectively.
“He’s an athlete. We’ve tried to get him downhill in everything that he does. Attack mode, attack mode. He can make hard plays for us. We need more of those guys that are capable of doing it like him,” Kennedy said of Davis.
Davis was a raw talent when he got to Oxford and has has improved significantly from his freshman year where he averaged 1.8 points per game to a current average of 12.4 points per game. He credits much of his improvement to his offseason work and continued pressure that he puts on himself. This work has paid off for Davis as he is now a focal point for the Rebel offense and looks to assert himself each and every game.
“I cracked the starting lineup four games ago. That was big for me. I told myself after the Virginia Tech game where I had my first double-double, and I told myself I could do this every game,” Davis said.
Davis continued to speak on the troubles he faced his freshman year and how he told himself that riding the bench was no longer an option for him. He wanted to help the team more, and he is doing just that for the Rebels this year.
Both Kennedy and Davis touched on how the team has progressed as it nears the end of non-conference play and head into SEC play beginning Dec. 29 against powerhouse Kentucky.
“We’ve missed some opportunities. The one that hurt the most is the (MTSU) game. We’ve just got to do better” Kennedy said.
“I don’t think we’re where we need to be, but we’re getting there. Spacing needs to improve. We’re not dependent anymore. I feel like any given night anybody can lead us in scoring. I really like that about this team,” Davis said.
Ole Miss has picked up its defensive intensity as its conference play draws closer. This team had many new faces coming into the year and has spent much of its non-conference slate trying to mesh as a unit. The Rebels need to minimize their careless mistakes late in games as they tallied 16 turnovers by the end of the game. Fixing this issue and remaining consistent on the offensive end, the Rebels will look to turn heads in the SEC this year.
The Ole Miss Rebels will play to extend their winning streak against the South Alabama Jaguars on the 22nd at home.