There are games where one team “has it” and the other simply doesn’t; Saturday was one of those days that Ole Miss didn’t. Iowa State made 70% of their shots, got 28 points from their bench and held the Rebels to 33 percent from the field en route to a 87-73 victory in the first game of the Big 12/SEC challenge.
The Cyclones scored the first points of the game, finishing out a wire to wire victory over an Ole Miss team that has now lost three out of their last four contests—all by double digits.
“We got beat by an outstanding team,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “Iowa State is probably the best put together offensive team in the country.”
From the tip, both teams played with the lethargy expected from an early tip-off. Iowa State woke up first, jumping out to an 11-4 lead while Ole Miss missed their first 8 field goal attempts. The Cyclones controlled the tempo for most of the first half, as every Ole Miss run was seemingly met with a Cyclone response.
With three minutes left to play in the first half, Iowa State led 37-29. After a Tyree lay-in and a Terence Davis transition three cut the lead to 3, the Pavilion returned to its pregame form. The building and the play on the court was electric. Both teams traded transition threes and dunks, and when the dust had settled Ole Miss trailed by only 5 at intermission.
At the half, the Cyclone’s backcourt of Marial Shayok and Talen Horton-Tucker had combined for 25 points on 60 percent shooting. Shayok was the Big 12’s leading scorer coming into the game, but Horton-Tucker stole the show He got any and every shot he wanted, getting into the teeth of the 1-3-1 but flashing a sweet jumper as well.
Kermit Davis admitted in the postgame that he was skeptical of employing the 1-3-1 against this Iowa State team that can fill it up from all three levels, and the gamble didn’t pay off.
“We feel like we have some of the best guards in the country,” said Horton-Tucker. “In the second half, we came out locked in. As a team, we thought the 1-3-1 was getting us easy, open looks.”
Ole Miss opened the second half with the same energy they closed the first half with and cut the Iowa State lead to 1 early in the period. Iowa State responded with a 10-2 run of their own, beginning a nearly 10-minute stretch in which the Cyclones didn’t miss a shot. Over that stretch, they made 13 straight field goals, ballooning the lead to 16 and putting to bed any thoughts of an Ole Miss comeback.
Kermit Davis thought his team defended poorly and didn’t move the ball as they had been. The Rebels had only 10 assists on 25 made field goals, and gave up 46 points in the paint.
“We gotta move the ball a lot better, that’s why we were winning so many games,” Junior guard Breein Tyree said. “A bunch of our field goals were coming off off assists. I only had one assist tonight, I gotta do better than that. We have to be better playmakers.”
Tyree finished with 22 points on 9-22 shooting, with one assist and three turnovers. His backcourt mate Terence Davis notched 16 points 6 rebounds and four assists, but shot 29% on 14 attempts. Normally, a 38 point combined outing from the pair would portend success, but when it takes 36 shots to get that 38, the success is varied.
Saturday’s loss marks the first time that Kermit Davis has faced true adversity in his tenure in Oxford. His team has three double-digit losses in eleven days and is guaranteed to fall back out of the AP top-25.
A midseason malaise isn’t uncharted territory for the Ole Miss basketball program, in fact, it’s been commonplace in recent years. In the past, the Rebels have succumbed to their losses and let their season be overtaken by them. Davis believes it’ll be different.
“We gotta have a short memory, have good practices and get our team back together,” Kermit Davis said. “We’ll bounce back.”