Ole Miss capped a 2-0 week — one that helped stabilize the team amongst a 1-5 stretch — with an 80-64 win against Georgia in Athens on Saturday.
Georgia doesn’t have a true point guard, and its guard play has been a primary reason why it has sputtered to the 10-13 record it boasts. Breein Tyree was certainly a benefactor of that. He torched the Bulldogs 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting.
“Coach just told me to stay aggressive,” Tyree told the TV broadcast after the game. “I had a lot of five men on me coming off ball screens and the shots were falling. I took a few too many shots for my liking, but it worked out.
Blake Hinson added 13 points with three triples and Terence Davis had 12 in what was a struggle for the senior guard on the offensive end of the floor.
Simply put, this was a game Ole Miss had to have. It had lost four in a row coming into the week and five of six after getting off to a quick start in league play. This week offered opportunity for stabilization, but also for implosion. With struggling Texas A&M coming to Oxford on Tuesday and a road game at Georgia on Saturday, this was a week in which the pendulum could’ve swung violently in either direction for a team trying to outplay expectations and establish itself as a legitimate threat to make the NCAA Tournament in March. A loss to either would’ve meant a 100-plus loss in the NET and a .500 record in league play at best. It would’ve also furthered the slide Ole Miss has been on the last three weeks. The Rebels needed to win both and did just that, the latter in pretty convincing fashion in Athens.
Hinson did some good things on both ends of the floor. When he is making perimeter jump shots, the rest of his game elevates along with it. Ole Miss needs him to be more consistent and affect games in other ways when he isn’t making shots. He took a charge, snagged a couple rebounds and had an assist.
The story of the day beyond Tyree’s offensive explosion was Bruce Stevens. The senior forward has struggled mightily lately, particularly on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor. He grabbed nine rebounds in the win, four of those offensive rebounds, posted a plus-minus of 29 and scored six points. For a team that had struggled rebounding the basketball for much of the SEC season, the Rebels won the margin on the glass 38-32 and held the Bulldogs to just five second chance points.
Ole Miss didn’t necessarily shoot the basketball well in this one. It was 28-of-63 from the floor, good for 44 percent for the game. But forced Georgia in into 20 turnovers and parlayed that into 19 points.
This was an important week for this team. It held its head above water and now sits at 6-4 in league play with eight games remaining. Ole Miss has given itself a puncher’s chance at making the NCAA Tournament, though much more work is left to be done. But this week could’ve sunk the Rebels, yet here they are, still afloat.