The Ole Miss Rebels bounced back from a loss earlier this week to Middle Tennessee State with a win over the Memphis Tigers 85-77. The Rebels were able to finish off the Tigers thanks in large part to the major contribution the team received from big man Sebastian Saiz. The Spaniard led the team in both points and rebounds, finishing the game with 20 points and 16 rebounds, giving him his fourth double-double of the season, and the Tigers had no answer for him.
“Sebas is the man. The clear work horse for the team,” Head Coach Andy Kennedy said.
Ole Miss showed much poise as it was leading by a comfortable margin for the majority of the game until the team found itself in a tie game with 6:31 left to play in the game. The explosiveness of the offense was in full effect from this point on. Deandre Burnett, Neal Cullen, Terrence Davis and Saiz sealed the game for the Rebels as they ended the contest on a 17-9 run.
“Making plays. It’s a make plays league in the SEC,” Kennedy said
“I’ve got to commend Ole Miss. We’ve got to play smarter,” Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith on the final run and end of the game.
Much of the Rebels’ success in the game against the Tigers garnered from their new starting lineup that featured Breein Tyree, Davis, Burnett, Saiz and Marcanvis Hymon. The starting group alone accounted for 60 of the Rebels’ 85 points in the game. Much praise was given to forward Hymon, who joined the starting lineup for the first time this game.
“He brings it. He’s way more athletic than me. He’s tough and we’ve been together for a long time,” Saiz said on Hymon’s increased role with the team.
Guard play and free throw conversion were other factors in the Rebels’ victory. Burnett finished the game with 19 points and Neal 12. The Rebels also capitalized from the line and only missed a single free throw in the second half going 20-21, and they finished the game 28-33, making 85 percent of their shots compared to 66 percent from Memphis.
Perhaps the biggest contribution to the Rebels’ success was their constant pressure and help defense on Tigers star Dedric Lawson. Lawson had been on a tear this year, averaging a double-double with 22 points a game and 11 rebounds but found himself battling against a tough Rebel defense and foul trouble. Lawson finished the game with only eight points and six rebounds.
“With him on or off the floor it’s on us to come together as a team,” Memphis player Markel Crawford said.
Ole Miss took care of business at home and passed a major test with the victory against the Tigers. The team has much momentum ahead for its next game against the Virginia Tech Hokies Dec. 11.