The Ole Miss Rebels fell 57-71 to Cincinnati in the Emerald Coast Classic Championship, finishing 1-1 in the basketball tournament during Thanksgiving weekend.
The game was a rematch of the first Emerald Coast Classic Championship in 2014, where the Rebels beat the Bearcats 66-54. The Bearcats pulled away early in the second half to come out on top this time around.
The Rebels started the weekend with an impressive 78-70 win over Baylor in the semifinal on Friday. It was a complete effort from Ole Miss despite Terence Davis’ struggles. While Terence Davis fought foul trouble all game, only able to put up seven points, Breein Tyree stepped up and scored a career-high 28 points, 17 of which came in the second half.
Bruce Stevens got the start at center and responded with 17 points and eight rebounds, and freshmen Blake Hinson and KJ Buffen added nine points each.
The Rebels forced 18 turnovers in their first Power 5 win under head coach Kermit Davis, creating 23 points off turnovers. They also capitalized on Baylor’s many fouls, making 29 of their 36 shots at the free throw line.
Ole Miss came into the championship game on Saturday against Cincinnati as the best three- point shooting team in the SEC, but the Bearcats managed to hold the Rebels to just three buckets from beyond the arc.
Devontae Shuler’s career-high 24 points were not enough to topple Jarron Cumberland’s 25 as the Rebels struggled with the Bearcats’ 2-3 zone defense.
Terence Davis continued to struggle offensively. The senior guard made none of his 11 shots and failed to put a point on the board all game, despite playing 31 minutes.
The Rebels had the score tied at 39 early in the second half, but a 15-2 run for the Bearcats put the game out of reach and the Rebels couldn’t recover down the stretch.
The bright points of the weekend were the performances of Tyree and Shuler, two guards who were expected to play a secondary role to the athletic scoring ability of Terence Davis. While Terence Davis has lagged, Tyree and Shuler have excelled.
Bruce Stevens has also played more efficiently during the past two games as it seems that he’s beat out Dominik Olejniczak for the starting center spot.
Kermit Davis and the Rebels have seven more non-conference games to find a way to channel consistent scoring performances from all of their playmakers while maintaining the scrappy defense that has come out of the blue in the first five games of the season.
The 3-2 Rebels continue their season on Wednesday in the Pavilion as the San Diego Toreros come into town.