NICEVILLE, Fla. – Junior guard Stefan Moody scored a career-high 26 points, including 17 in the second half, as Ole Miss handed Cincinnati its first loss of the season with a 66-54 victory in the championship of the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic basketball tournament held at The Arena Saturday night.
“We’ve posted two quality wins against teams (Creighton, Cincinnati) that are going to have good seasons,” said head coach Andy Kennedy. “We played just as hard tonight like we did against Creighton but not as well.”
“Still, this was a good win for our program to beat a team of this caliber,” added Kennedy, who served as interim head coach of Cincinnati during the 2005-06 season, guiding the Bearcats to the quarterfinal round of the NIT.
The Rebels scored six straight points to break a 14-14 tie, retaining the lead the rest of the way.
Cincinnati struggled offensively, shooting a season-low 30.4 percent from the floor after hitting a season-high 56.8 percent in a 69-51 triumph past Middle Tennessee State Friday night.
Clinging to a 30-25 halftime lead, the 5-foot-10 Moody ignited the Rebels in the second half with his penetration producing twisting layups in the paint through the Cincinnati offense. He also hit three 3-point baskets.
“I’ve been telling people that he has explosive scoring ability,” Kennedy said. “He carried the load for us. Good teams have good options. Tonight it was Stefan.”
Moody was named the tournament’s most valuable performer and was joined by senior guard Jarvis Summers, the leading active score in the SEC, on the 10-man all-tournament team.
“I was pretty pleased with how we played today,“ said Moody, who was named the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year while playing for Florida Atlantic. “I knew that if I was able to come out and get going, it would give the team a spark that help us get the victory.”
The Rebels shot a sizzling 62.5 percent in the second half, hitting 10 of 16 shots. That allowed Ole Miss to construct its biggest lead at 52-33 with 10:22 left following a free throw by Moody.