In Ole Miss’ first game back as a top-25 ranked team, they suffered possibly their worst loss of the season to the tigers of LSU, as LSU (13-3, 3-0) dispatched the Rebels 83-69 behind 20 points and 9 assists from junior guard Tremont Waters.
The first four minutes of the game were ugly. At the first television timeout, the score was knotted at 4-4, each team shooting 25% from the field and logging three turnovers. Both teams flung punches back and forth, most barely hitting, and the score was tied at 31 at intermission.
31 points are the fewest Ole Miss has scored in a first half all season long—a byproduct of shooting 19% from three and missing five of nine attempts from the line. Yet, after twenty minutes, they entered the locker room gridlocked.
Following halftime, Terence Davis opened the second period with a long three off a cross screen, putting the Rebels up three and bringing a particularly energetic first half crowd back to its feet. LSU answered, and the charade continued until LSU took the lead with 15:59 left to play. They held on tight, not relinquishing it for the rest of the contest.
“I thought the second half was one of—if not our best—halves of basketball all season long,” LSU head coach Will Wade said.
The Tigers nearly doubled their first-half total, dropping 52 second-half points on 59%
shooting from the field. They only committed three turnovers in the second, compared to 10 in the first.
Tremont Waters scorched the Rebels for 15 second-half points, converting on five of his six shots and adding 4 more assists. He opened the game with a deep airball from three—and was harassed for the remainder of the half by the student section—so, it was fitting that with just three minutes left to play in the second half, Waters’ three-point attempt launched from well beyond the line drove the dagger through any hope of an Ole Miss comeback.
Kermit Davis thought the game was lost on the margins; he felt his team wasn’t winning 50-50 balls and playing with the effort they’ve shown in their three previous SEC contests.
“There was a three minute stretch in the second half when the game got away, and it kinda stayed that way going forward,” said Davis.
The Rebels lost the game at the free throw line and in points off turnovers, though. They were a -11 in free throws and a lost the points off turnover battle 19 to 9, an indication that there might have been a bit of a nationally-ranked hangover (Ole Miss led the SEC in FT% coming into the game).
The Rebels will look to avenge their loss Saturday as they welcome an Arkansas team that has lost three straight into the Pavilion.