Ole Miss traveled to Auburn for an early Valentine’s date with the Tigers on Wednesday night. However, it would be the Tigers that would leave heartbroken as the Rebels snuck out with a 60-55 road victory to sweep the season series with Auburn and extend their winning streak to three games.
In a game predicted to be a high scoring affair, it seemed as if there was a lid on the rim to open the game for both teams. The first bucket of the contest came almost three and a half minutes in courtesy of a 3-pointer by Bruce Stevens. Ole Miss connected on just one of their first 10 shots, but the Tigers were not much better, going 2-for-10 from the floor out of the gate.
A slow start shooting, combined with Ole Miss forcing Auburn into eight turnovers, led to the lowest scoring first half of the season for the Tigers who trailed the Rebels 30-24 at the break. Shuler and Tyree combined for 22 of the Rebels’ 30 first-half points. Shooting just 32 percent, Auburn was lucky to head into the locker room only 6 points behind the Rebels.
Success from beyond the arc was instrumental in securing a victory for the Rebels. Of their eight field goals in the second half, six came from 3-point territory. Ole Miss tied their season high in made three-pointers this season with 13 due to Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler, who both knocked down four on the night.
The Rebels picked up right where they left off defensively in the second half, holding Auburn to a season-low 55 points on 33 percent from the field while also forcing it into 14 turnovers.
Tyree finished with 20 points on 6-of-12 from the floor while drilling 4-of-8 from downtown. This marks the sixth consecutive 20-point performance from the junior guard. Shuler followed Tyree’s lead, scoring 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting and four assists. Terence Davis had just 8 points and four rebounds after spending the majority of the game in foul trouble.
The Rebels were shorthanded coming into the matchup with Blake Hinson unavailable due to the flu. Hinson’s absence provided KJ Buffen with his second start of the season. The Ole Miss bench was pivotal with the absence of Hinson and Davis’s playing time limited by foul trouble. Zac Naylor and Luis Rodriguez stepped in to provide some much needed reinforcements, each playing 15 minutes and combining for seven points and eight rebounds.
Chuma Okeke paced the Tigers with 23 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs. Auburn’s dynamic duo of Jared Harper and Bryce Brown were bottled up by the Ole Miss guards combining for just 18 points on 3-of-20 shooting.
Ole Miss shifts their focus to a matchup Saturday afternoon in The Pavilion with Missouri. The Rebels return home for the first time in their last three games where the raucous Club Red, along with the rest of Rebel Nation, will be watching to see if they can stretch their winning streak to four. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m.