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Shuler’s 19 points paces Rebels on sluggish offensive night in win over Southeastern Louisiana

The game was a slog on the offensive end for most of the night for Ole Miss in its 69-47 win over Southeastern Louisiana, but the Rebels overwhelmed the Lions defensively to create separation early in a game that never really hung in the balance.

“Every game has a life of its own,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “We didn’t have our best stuff offensively. I thought we had the least amount of breakdowns we’ve had all year.”

Devontae Shuler led all scorers with 19 points in 7-of-10 shooting. The sophomore guard made 3-of-4 three pointers after entering the game three of his last 13. It is evident Shuler is becoming more comfortable in Kermit Davis’ half court offense and the efficient manner in which he shoots the ball is proof of that. Southeastern Louisiana sagged off of Shuler on the perimeter and he didn’t hesitate in letting it fly. 

“Me coming out with a little more confidence, I feel like I always come out thinking I am going to shoot the ball well,” Shuler said. “It is a confidence thing when I am not hitting them. We went to the gym last night and I got a good feel for the rim.”

Terence Davis added 15 points. The Rebels shot 28-of-53 from the field, good for 53 percent and totaled 16 assists.

Outside of Shuler, it was tough sledding for the Rebels, particularly early in the second half. The Lions flashed a soft, even-fronted press at times and Ole Miss struggled to move the ball in its half-court offense. Stagnant ball movement has directly led to the team struggling on the offensive end more times than not through eight games.

“We kind of dribbled it a little too much tonight,” Kermit Davis said. “The biggest thing was to win the game, but we know we have a lot to clean up.”

Kermit Davis’ offense involves a lot more structure than Andy Kennedy’s did. Kennedy gave his players a lot more freedom to shoot the basketball at any point during a possession and Kennedy’s philosophy hinged on isolation. Moving the basketball to both sides of the floor and into the post is still something this team appears to be getting used to through eight games and is part of the diagnosis of the stagnant ball movement that plagues it at times.

“We still have our moments where we keep the ball on one side,” Shuler said. “When we get it to the third side of the floor, we shoot it 65 percent higher.”

Southeastern Louisiana shot the ball horribly in this game. The Lions were 19-of-51 from the field and 2-of-17 from three point range. Perimeter defense has been the primary struggle for the Rebels early on this season. Kermit Davis has been concerned with how the team has guarded three point shots. It saved the Rebels on this night.

“I thought the defense kind of saved us in the second half when the ball stopped moving,” Kermit Davis said. “It certainly rescued us tonight. It was a good win.”

This was the first time Ole Miss has played in Jackson since 2007. It is something Kermit Davis felt was important to put back into place regularly when he took the reins to the program last spring. Davis said he was pleased with the turnout and that he’d like for this to become more a mainstay on Ole Miss’ schedule.

“It was great,” Kermit Davis said. “I thought the crowd was a great start.. It is something we are going to do, start working on an opponent next year. I think this game is going to continue to grow.”

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