The Ole Miss basketball team used electric runs early and frequently to fend off Florida in a 68-51 victory on Saturday at the Pavilion.
The Rebel backcourt of Devontae Shuler and Breein Tyree shined throughout the afternoon with Shuler scoring 14 points and Tyree tallying 23.
“Those guys played like a really good college backcourt,” Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said. “Breein had 23, but he affected that game in so many different ways. Devontae (had) big steals and hands on balls.”
The Rebels were off to a hot start in the first but struggled defensively, allowing four offensive rebounds — three of them coming in a single possession. The Rebels continued to push the pace and scored on offense with solid three-point shooting in the first going 4-8 from behind the line. At the same time, they succeeded in limiting Florida’s opportunity to close out effectively, allowing only two 3-pointers on 10 attempts from the Gators.
Tyree played an efficient first half, scoring 12 points on only eight attempts from the field. KJ Buffen held the team on defense, contributing one block and four rebounds, and effectively guarded the Gator’s leading man Kerry Blackshear when asked.
Blackshear’s presence led to some interesting moves from Davis, who deferred Antavion Collum to guard Florida’s man in the middle on multiple possessions. This usage of Collum would increase in the second half before going back to starter Khadim Sy to close. Ole Miss made it difficult for Blackshear, who only scored nine in the first and 14 on the game — most of the points coming from free-throws.
The Rebels were efficient from behind the 3-point line as the second half moved on with big time threes from Tyree, who had a 38-point explosion against South Carolina, had himself another big game scoring 23, becoming the 9th all-time leading scorer in school history.
There were some moments at the beginning of the second half that seemed almost reminiscent of the Auburn game as the Gators edged the lead down to single digits.
When asked about his usage of Collum to guard Blackshear, Coach Davis said, “I was really proud of Dude (Collum). That was a tough matchup. Usually he would guard the four, but he went and battled Blackshear, who is as good a low-post scorer as anyone in our league. I just think his practices are so much better; he made a bucket today. I was just really proud of his effort.”
When Florida coach Mike White was asked about the loss, he had nothing but praise for the Ole Miss team.
“They are better than their record,” he said. “It’s harder said than done to guard Breein Tyree. He’s just really good.”
The Rebels came out of this one above .500 in the win column at 12-11, and the team gained its third SEC win this season. Davis and the team hope to continue this win streak with upcoming rival Mississippi State on Tuesday.
Though the Rebels are making a big push to salvage what looked like a lost season, the game against Mississippi State will show a lot about this team and what they truly are.
The Rebels will face Mississippi State at 6 p.m on Tuesday in the Pavilion.