OXFORD, MS (WLBT) - Converting 25 turnovers into 32 points on the other end of the floor, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team won its fourth straight game with a 75-65 victory over Missouri Saturday afternoon at The Pavilion. The Rebels (18-7, 8-4 SEC) tallied 13 steals in the defensive effort, including a career-high five by sophomore Devontae Shuler.
Ole Miss was led in scoring by a pair of Rebels coming off the bench. Senior forward Bruce Stevens scored a team-high 17 points, matching his season best, to go along with a trio of three-pointers. Freshman KJ Buffen added 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting with career highs in assists (4) and steals (3) through 32 minutes on the floor.
The Rebels knocked down their free throws, a common theme throughout the season, going 20 of 23 (87.0 percent) from the stripe. Breein Tyree went to the line the most, making six of his eight attempts as part of his 14-point afternoon. Shuler added 12 points as the fourth Rebel to reach double figures.
Jordan Geist tallied a game-high 23 points to pace Missouri (12-12, 3-9 SEC) in the loss. Xavier Pinton added 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Rebels began the game right where they left off from the win at Auburn, clamping down on defense. Dominik Olejniczak defended the rim with a pair of blocks 35 seconds into the contest. Ole Miss jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, forcing Missouri to miss seven of its first eight shots.
Missouri clashed the offensive glass, and after a second-chance three cut the margin to four, 19-15, head coach Kermit Davis called timeout to talk things over. After Olejniczak knocked down a pair of free throws coming out of the break, Terence Davis and Buffen drilled back-to-back threes. Ole Miss’ answer with an 8-0 run increased the lead to a dozen, 27-15.
Ole Miss remained ahead to take a 35-26 lead into the locker room, limiting Mizzou to a 33.3 percent clip (8 of 24) from the field and forcing 15 turnovers. Buffen led the way with nine points by making all three of his shots and a pair of free throws. He also dished out four assists in the opening 20 minutes to set a new career high for an entire game.
The Rebels wasted no time pushing the contest back to double digits to start the second half. A 12-2 run courtesy of four Rebels finding the bottom of the net made it a 47-28 game. Missouri countered with a 15-5 run to get back to its halftime deficit, 52-43, with 10:21 to go.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Geist got the Tigers within seven at the 4:03 mark of the second half, but they couldn’t get any closer. As the SEC leader in free throw percentage, Ole Miss drained free throws down the stretch to hold off Missouri and clinch its fourth win in a row.
Following a week against the Tigers of Auburn and Missouri, Ole Miss heads east for its third road contest in a four-game stretch. The Rebels will face South Carolina (Feb. 19) in a matchup that could have a major factor in SEC Tournament seeding. At 8-4 in the SEC, Ole Miss is now tied with the Gamecocks for fourth in the conference standings. The top four teams earn a double bye into the quarterfinals of the tournament. Tipoff from Columbia is slated for 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
- Ole Miss beat Missouri for the 10th time in the last 11 matchups and now lead the all-time series 11-2.
- Kermit Davis became the second coach in school history to win 18 of his first 25 games as head coach.
- Ole Miss moved to 18-7, the best record through 25 games since going 19-6 during the 2012-13 season (SEC Tournament champions).
- The Rebels improved to 8-4 in SEC play for first time since 2014-15 season, the last time they made the NCAA Tournament.
- Ole Miss increased its winning streak to four games; during the streak, the Rebels are averaging 11.3 steals per game and 23.5 points off turnovers.
- Ole Miss forced 25 Missouri turnovers, the most forced in a game since causing 25 versus Bradley (Nov. 28, 2015).
- The Rebels went 20 of 23 (87.0 percent) from the free throw line, shooting over 85.0 percent for the ninth time this season.
- With 17 points from Bruce Stevens and 14 points by KJ Buffen, Ole Miss got 31 points from its bench; Stevens tied his season high in points, while Buffen posted career highs in assists (4) and steals (3).
- Entering the game ranked fourth in the SEC in steals, Devontae Shuler tallied a career-high five steals on the afternoon.
- During a media timeout, the family of the late Justin Reed was recognized; Reed is being honored as Ole Miss' 2019 SEC Legend. The Rebels also wore warmups with Reed's number 23.
- The Ole Miss coaching staff wore puzzle piece lapel pins during the game as part of Coaches Powering Forward for Autism this weekend, joining coaches around the country in autism awareness.