After a solid showing in the Emerald Coast Classic over Thanksgiving weekend, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team will look to continue building momentum in a matchup with San Diego at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in The Pavilion.
The Rebels came out strong in their first big test of the season, knocking off Baylor 78-70 behind a monster game from junior guard Breein Tyree who dropped 28 points on the Bears in just 33 minutes.
“I really think it’s going to be a good win come March. I think that team will keep getting better and better,” said head coach Kermit Davis, who notched his first marquee win as the Rebels’ head coach.
With the Baylor win, the Rebels moved to the championship game where they faced a Cincinnati team that is expected to contend for the AAC title this season. The Rebels were playing neck and neck with the Bearcats until they were caught on the wrong side of a 15-2 run in the last 10 minutes of the game, eventually falling 71-57.
“I think that we got a great experience from that game,” said DeVontae Shuler, who scored his season-high 24 points in the loss to the Bearcats. “I feel like Cincinnati was an NCAA (tournament) team last year, so I feel like going against them we learned a lot from them being more aggressive on both ends of the court.”
The Rebels will have to put their performance this past weekend in the rearview mirror as they suit up against a veteran San Diego squad who will be flying into Oxford boasting a 5-1 record.
With the luxury of having 12 upperclassmen, San Diego will be rolling out a three-headed monster of seniors responsible for nearly 64 percent of their offense. Isaiah Pineiro, the 6-foot-7-inch redshirt senior forward, leads the team in both points and rebounds, averaging 22 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in 2018. Senior guard Olin Carter III is second on the team in scoring, averaging just under 17 points per contest, while senior guard Isaiah Wright averages just more than 10 points per game, also leading the team in assists with 4.6 per game.
“Oh man, why’d we schedule that game?” Kermit Davis asked through seemingly nervous laughter. “They’ve got four starters back from a team that won 20 games. They’ve already beaten Colorado. To me, I think they’re the second best team in the WAC behind Gonzaga.”
In order to get back on the winning track, the Rebels will need more out of senior guard Terence Davis, a preseason second-team All-SEC selection. Davis, who is averaging 13.6 points per game, was shut out in 31 minutes by Cincinnati and had only seven points in the win against Baylor.
Kermit Davis is confident those two performances will not affect Terence Davis going forward.
“He’s going to bounce back; he will get back going again,” Kermit Davis said.