Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis had a distinct message for senior Terence Davis while the team was away for Christmas break.
The two were texting over the holidays and exchanging pleasantries when Kermit Davis offered a bold prediction for his All-SEC guard.
“I said ‘TD, you are about to have the best three months of your whole career. You’ve earned it. You just need to relax, go play and let the game come to you,’” Kermit Davis recalled.
The message certainly resonate resonated, and spawned eagerness for the senior who is preparing for his final run through the SEC in pursuit of an NCAA Tournament birth.
“It was so encouraging,” Terence Davis said. “I was wishing him a Merry Christmas and hoping he was enjoying the time with his family because I was really enjoying the time with mine. I don’t get to spend a lot of days with them just hanging around… It just hit me right then and I was ready to come back to work the next day. I was ready to be at practice and come to work.”
Terence Davis is averaging 15.5 points per game, good for second on the team behind Breein Tyree, who is having the best offensive stretch of his Ole Miss career at 17.3 points per contest. The pair, along with Devontae Shuler, comprise a trio of veteran guards that are going to have to shoulder a heavy load for a team that has its fair share of shortcomings in the post. They’re the three leading scorers on the team and rank in the top three in minutes played by a wide margin.
Terence Davis recorded two early fouls in the win over Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, an occurrence that would normally lure him to the bench for the remainder for the first half. Kermit Davis elected to leave him in the game to see if he could handle playing through foul trouble. Why? He knows for Ole Miss to have success in SEC play, those guards are going to have to stay on the floor even through trying circumstances.
“My staff said take him out,” Kermit Davis said. “I wanted to see if he could play with two fouls. When we get into SEC play, Breein, TD and those guys are going to have to play with two fouls. They are going to have to play with three fouls with 16 minutes to go at times.”
Terence Davis has evolved a great deal since arriving at Ole Miss in 2015 as a raw talent with freakish athleticism. Since Kermit Davis took over the program last spring, he’s challenged Terence to become a more consistent scorer, a better defender and a player that doesn’t let the production on the offensive end affect other aspects of the game. Terence Davis is one of three seniors on the team and the only one who’s been in the program for all four years. He’s seen seen the worst of times as the Rebels plummeted to a 12-20 record a season ago and he wants to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career in his final season.
“I think we are really prepared,” Terence Davis said. “I knew this team had a lot of potential with the new staff and returning players. This wasn’t going to be a rebuilding year.”
The Rebels begin the conference season on Saturday night at Vanderbilt. How they’ll fare in a loaded SEC remains to be seen, but Terence Davis thinks they’ll surprise a lot of the league.
“Last year, losing seven games in a row was rock bottom,” Terence Davis said. “The returning guys know that feeling. We have hit rock bottom. We said before the start of the season that we are not going to feel that way anymore. This team is definitely ready to show some people and shock some people.”
Tipoff on Saturday is set for 7:30 P.M.