Ole Miss earned a win on Wednesday night that tested its depth every bit as much as its toughness and will. The Rebels won 60-55 at Auburn in a win that could change the trajectory of its season.
The team is 17-7 and 7-4 in the SEC with a struggling Missouri team coming to Oxford on Saturday.
Ole Miss won without Blake Hinson, who missed with the game with an illness. Terence Davis played just 13 minutes as he quickly became entangled in foul trouble. The senior guard picked up three fouls in the first half and was assessed his fourth just over 90 seconds into the second half. Davis scored just eight points on six shots. Breein Tyree led the the Rebels with 20 points. Devontae Shuler.
It is a thin team as constructed and the bench was tested to its limits. Zach Naylor and Luis Rodriguez each played 15 minutes. D.C. Davis logged 18 minutes. Ole Miss won a road game at Auburn that saw D.C. Davis register more more minutes than its All-SEC guard Terence Davis. The Rebels were just 19-of-51 from the field. But 13 of those were three pointers on 33 attempts. Auburn was a woeful 16-of-49 and 5-of-20 from three point range.
The game lacked flow and was an ugly offensive display. Both teams struggled to run efficient half court offense. The Rebels were good enough in that department down the stretch. Ole Miss had numerous reasons to wilt on multiple occasions. This wasn’t a game it was supposed to win. It unexpectedly lost a starter and its second leading scorer was essentially a non-factor. The Rebels led by six at half and weathered a couple of Tiger runs that saw the lead shrink to as small as two points. It wasn’t a wire-to-wire win, but Auburn didn’t lead the game after going up 4-3 in the first couple minutes.
But the Rebels withstood the storm and got enough stops down the stretch to steal a win. Auburn was one of its last seven from the field. Chuma Okeke had 23 of the Tigers’ 25. Only one other Auburn player recorded double digits as Jared Harper added 10 points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field.
This was a win that will alter the trajectory of Ole Miss’ season. The Rebels are now 7-4 in league play and are 4-2 in true road games on the season. Ten wins will likely get Ole Miss into the NCAA Tournament. That feat looks drastically more realistic than it did entering this game. Kermit Davis has preached to his group since he took over that he wanted to build a team tough enough to win on the road. The Rebels have been a good road team this season, but there’s an argument to be made this one was harder to come by than any other. It certainly could prove to be the most fruitful as a team that wasn’t given much of a chance in November continues its pursuit for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Photo credit: Joshua McCoy — Ole Miss Athletics