Ole Miss men’s basketball came up short again in their penultimate matchup of the regular season, falling at home to No. 6 Kentucky by a score of 80-76. This loss extends the Rebels’ losing streak to three games with just one SEC game remaining before the conference tournament kicks off on Wednesday in Nashville.
Riding the energy from the Senior Night festivities that took place prior to tipoff, the Rebels got off to a quick start straight out of the gates. Terence Davis, one of the three seniors honored before the game along with Bruce Stevens and D.C. Davis, scored 9 of the Rebels’ first 12 points, helping Ole Miss jump to an earl 12-6 advantage over Kentucky.
The Wildcats pushed back, orchestrating a 16-4 run of their own to claim a 33-25 lead with six minutes to play in the first half. The Rebels immediately countered with an 11-1 run to snatch the lead back at 36-34.
Ole Miss would head into the locker room heroically clinging to a 39-38 lead. Terence Davis paced the Rebels with 15 points and 6 rebounds in the first half, while Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler each had 8 points. Keldon Johnson led the way for the Wildcats with 14 first-half points and was followed by Tyler Herro, who had 13 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting.
The second half opened with each team trading buckets and neither squad having an opportunity to pull away.
After sitting on the bench for most of the first half because of foul trouble, Kentucky’s P.J. Washington found his rhythm after halftime. Washington accounted for 11 points in the midst of a 14-7 run by Kentucky that spanned over six minutes and stretched Kentucky’s lead to 72-65 with over five minutes remaining.
After a nearly two-minute scoring drought for both teams, Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson knocked down 1 of 2 free throws with 33 seconds left, giving the Wildcats a 76-71 advantage. Terence Davis responded with a quick bucket of his own to cut Kentucky’s lead to three with 22 seconds left.
The Rebels’ suffocating defense forced the Wildcats to call a timeout on their first inbounds play after Terence Davis’s free throw. On its second try, Kentucky was able to get the ball into the hands of the SEC’s leading free-throw shooter, Tyler Herro, who was immediately fouled. Herro, who came into the game shooting at a blistering 94 percent from the charity stripe, was able to drill both of his foul shots and drive the nail into the Rebels’ coffin.
“We are literally about three possessions away from winning eight out of nine,” head coach Kermit Davis said following the fourth straight loss with a margin of four points or fewer.
Terence Davis led all scorers with 25 points and 12 rebounds for his 10th career double-double in his final game inside The Pavilion.
“It still hasn’t really hit me,” Terence Davis said while fighting back tears. “This place is special. The Pavilion is amazing, and I couldn’t ask for a better four years.”
Tyree followed up Terence Davis’s effort by dropping 21 points. Stevens finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds, and Shuler rounded out the group of Rebels scoring in double figures with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
“We just have to keep plugging away,” Kermit Davis said. “I’m proud of our players, and I know the progress that we have made.”
Johnson led Kentucky with 22 points to go along with 7 rebounds. Tyler Herro ended the night with 20 points on 8-of-12 from the floor.
Next up for Ole Miss is a trip to Columbia, Missouri, where the Missouri Tigers will be waiting for them for the final game of the regular season. While this is an important game for the Rebels’ NCAA tournament hopes, Ole Miss is still jockeying for position for a double bye in the SEC tournament March 14-17.