Despite a strong first half and senior night festivities, the Rebels fell short to the visiting Commodores 82-69 Saturday night. A bout between the two lowest-ranked teams in the SEC, Saturday’s game was played for the No. 13 spot in next week’s conference tournament in St. Louis.
The Rebels’ starting lineup included four seniors – Justas Furmanavicius, Deandre Burnett, Marcanvis Hymon and Markel Crawford – as well as sophomore point guard Breein Tyree.
The visiting Commodores came out shooting hot from beyond the 3-point line, draining two in the first few minutes to start off a 10-6 lead. Ole Miss did not crack under pressure and did well taking care of the ball early, committing just two turnovers in the first half.
Ole Miss’ Crawford and Bruce Stevens’ first-half play helped to take the lead and spurred Ole Miss on to make it a competitive one-point game at the half. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt would go back and forth through the first 20, with Stevens’ 15 first-half points leading the Rebel offense. He ultimately finished the game with 17.
Vanderbilt carried its momentum into the second half with a 5-0 run to solidify a 50-44 lead. It remained a close game for the first 10 minutes of the second half before Vanderbilt pulled away.
Halfway through the second, the Commodores extended their lead to 10 and did not look back for the remainder of the match. The Rebels failed to apply necessary pressure and subsequently fell out of contention.
Burnett struggled during the game’s first 35 minutes and finally made his first basket of the night with five minutes remaining. Burnett would finish with six points after going 2 for 9 from the field and 0 for 3 behind the 3-point line.
Hymon, who was ejected in the previous game against Kentucky after two technical fouls, would foul out this game with 8:23 left in the second half.
It was a rough night for the Ole Miss seniors, who went 7 for 22 from the field and shot 0 for 4 behind the 3-point line combined.
Terence Davis finished second in scoring behind Stevens, with 15 points and five defensive rebounds in his 30 minutes of play. Tyree amassed 11 points on the night, and Crawford finished his final game in Oxford with 10 points.
In the end, the Rebels could not overcome the deficit and never made a convincing case that they were even able to.
“It was one of those nights. Defensively, we couldn’t get stops,” interim head coach Tony Madlock said after the game. “The Commodores are a good 3-point shooting team. We knew we couldn’t let them get off threes, and for them to get off 12 in the game is unacceptable.”
Despite a difficult season, Madlock said he thinks the Rebels have more left in the tank going into the SEC Tournament. He plans to “get back to work” in preparation for Wednesday night’s game, which he said is a fresh start for the team.
“We know exactly where we are, the year we’ve had; we need to let everything go,” Madlock said. “There’s no tomorrow. We know that. You lose and you’re done, so let’s just go out and play as hard as we can.”
This game left the Rebels with a record of 12-19, 5-13 in the SEC, and the No. 14 seed in the SEC tournament. They will face South Carolina in the first round of the tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday in St. Louis.