The Ole Miss basketball team ran Arkansas State out of the gym in their first game of the season, winning 71-43 and putting the game beyond doubt in the first half.
“Opening night is just opening night, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in it for as long as I have, 38 years,” said head coach Kermit Davis. “Some of these freshman, the anxiety is with them but you know our team played extremely hard.”
The Rebels had trouble getting going offensively to start the game, turning the ball over and failing to get into their sets.
Devontae Shuler was remarkable from the field, pouring in 20 points on 7-11 shooting including 3-7 from beyond the arc. He also recorded two of the team’s 14 steals in a solid performance on the defensive end as well.
“I thought Devontae Shuler kind of dominated the game on both ends,” said Davis. “He just dominated the ball, he disrupted offense even when he didn’t have the ball… he ran our team… he looked like he was the most experienced guy on the floor.”
“Coach has put me in a position to shoot the ball more, of course losing [Terence Davis], now it’s me and Breein Tyree who need to step up and take more shots and take control of the game,” Shuler said. “It feels good to be averaging 20 points per game.”
K.J. Buffen, however, continues to be a surprise in the young season. The sophomore from Gainesville, Georgia averaged six points per game last year but exploded for 16 against the Red Wolves. He was extremely efficient from the field knocking down five of his six shots from the field. He also terrorized opponents on the defensive end, registering nine rebounds, two blocks and three assists.
“He’s putting just what he does in practice right in the game. His attitude’s unbelievable. He allows everyone to coach him… he’s grown up in a year and he’s still got so much room for improvement,” Davis said.
Tyree struggled to get into a rhythm on the offensive end, going 1-7 from the field in the first half with his only make coming from a wide open three-pointer just above the break on the left wing. He finished with six points on 2-9 shooting including 1-7 from deep. While he could not find a way to get himself going, he created opportunities for his teammates with his playmaking and effort on the defensive end. He recorded four assists and three steals in the contest, managing to impact the game despite his slow shooting night.
“Last guy I’m worried about on our team is Breein. You know, it’s just one of those games and I thought Breein settled a little bit early. His strength in his game, he’s a good three-point shooter but it’s there right at that rim, the mid range and right at the rim,” Davis said.
The Rebels now shift their attention to Tuesday when they will play Norfolk State at home.