This Ole Miss hoops story just got real

The Davis’ Rebels made a strong statement Saturday by erasing 11 and 9 point deficits in the first half to defeat No. 14 Mississippi State beat 77-77 in front of more than 10,000 maroon-clad fans. The Rebels, who were picked to finish last or near-to-last in the Southeastern Conference, have won 10 consecutive games to improve their record to 13-2 overall, and 3-0 in SEC. * beat 14 of the USA’s top teams to win back-to-back matches. * will surely be ranked among the Top 25 when the polls are released on Monday. We’ll be discussing what the Rebels accomplished shortly. But first, let me tell you how much it was fun to see the Magnolia State rivals play in such an intense, meaningful game. It was a thrilling game of basketball, both physical and emotionally. Each time one team made a run, it would seem like they were throwing a haymaker. The other team would then get up off the ground and continue the game. Ole Miss played better basketball, was more physically active, and had a tougher game. That’s why, when Saturday’s game was over, there was only a small group of Ole Miss fans left in the arena. The rest were in the lower reaches and then in a loud Rebel locker room down the hall from where the post-game interviews were held. As impressive was Wednesday night’s win over No. This victory over No. 11 Auburn was impressive, but this one at The Hump was even more. The Bulldogs won 32-21 when State’s Lamar Peters made a 3-pointer with just 7 minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the first period. The State fans appeared to be about to blow The Hump. At that point, smaller teams and less strong teams could have folded. The Rebels responded, bringing the score back within 41-39 at halftime. The Rebels responded by scoring the first seven points in the second period to make it 48-39. State fans were loud again. Ole Miss looked drunken and on the ropes again. The Rebels came back again. Ben Howland, the state coach, might have put it best. He said, “Ole Miss displayed a lot of moxie as well as toughness.” “Credit them, No. 1” Credit Ole Miss for using the ball to score better shots. The Rebels deserve credit for being better at defending, particularly on the perimeter. It didn’t take too long for the second half to come back. After State had led by nine points, the Rebels began scoring three points per game. Blake Hinson, a freshman, made three straight 3-pointers. This is a credit to him. But even he would admit that he could have had more open looks at it. Howland said, once again, “We did an awful job on Hinson, but we knew who he was.” We knew he could shoot three.” Bruce Stevens was a Bulldog who, when left open on back to back possessions, made three-balls. The Rebels took a 59-57 lead with the second one. They never lost again. Rebel after Rebel made Ole Miss big plays down that stretch. Breein Tyree may have been the most dominant player, driving the lane with 50 seconds remaining to break the tie at 77-77. Tyree then made both free throws after being fouled with nine seconds remaining to increase the final margin to 81-71. Talk about toughness. Tyree was injured in his shoulder and went to the locker room during the first half. He said afterwards, “It hurt as the devil.” He said that it still hurts. But he made the game’s most important plays in the last minute to win it. Adolph Rupp or John Wooden didn’t have the same reaction to Ole Miss working harder and passing the ball more in order to score higher percentage shots, especially over the last five minutes. If the game ball was awarded, it might have gone to Hinson. The freshman scored 26 points, and provided five rebounds and a blocked shot, as well as two steals. The ball had to go to Kermit, Jr. because he was back in the same town as his dad and school where he played basketball and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant. Davis admitted that he felt a bit strange taking the court about four minutes before the game started. He saw familiar faces at a place where he learned how to shoot baskets. The game began and Davis lost himself in the excitement and competition. He said “No”, he explained that Kermit Davis Sr., who was once the Coach of the Year in SEC at MSU, was not there. Kermit Jr. said that his father had just been discharged from the hospital after suffering pneumonia. Davis smiled as he said, “He just wasn’t up to it.” He laughed and said, “Probably the best thing that could’ve happened.” He said, chuckling, “If he’d been here his heart might have taken him.” That was intense._x000D

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