GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Ole Miss men’s basketball team was without two starters Tuesday night, including leading scorer Breein Tyree due to injury. A road test short-handed proved to be a tall order, and the Rebels (9-7, 0-3) fell to the Florida Gators 71-55.
In his return to his home state, sophomore Blake Hinson produced his first career double-double. The Deltona, Florida, native tallied 16 points to go along with a career-high 11 rebounds. Fellow classmate KJ Buffen scored a team-high 20 points for his third 20-point game of the season. He found most of his success at the free throw line, going 10 of 11.
Keyontae Johnson (15 points), Kerry Blackshear Jr. (13 points) and Andrew Nembhard (10 points) all recorded double figures for the Gators (11-5, 3-1 SEC). As a team, Florida shot 54 percent (27 of 50) from the field and controlled the paint with 44 points.
With two starters missing action, Breein Tyree and Khadim Sy, Florida jumped out to an early double-digit lead, 17-6. However, the Rebels battled back with a 10-0 run. Hinson started things with back-to-back long three-pointers. An offensive putback by Carlos Curry followed by another Hinson jumper brought the Rebels within one, 17-16, with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Ole Miss continued to maintain momentum, growing the run to 16-2 to take its first lead of the game. A fadeaway baseline jumper by Hinson gave him 12 on the night, putting the Rebels in front. Ole Miss held Florida scoreless for three minutes, and a KJ Buffen drive to the basket made it a three-point game, 22-19.
The Gators caught fire, sinking nine buckets in a row and holding a 12-point advantage at the half. While Ole Miss shot 52.4 percent (11 of 21) in the opening 20 minutes, Florida boasted a better shooting clip at 62.1 percent (18 of 29) thanks to 30 points in the paint.
While the Ole Miss defense limited the Gators to nine made field goals in the second half, the deficit proved to be too large as Florida increased its lead throughout the remainder of the game. Buffen scored 14 of the Rebels’ 27 second half points, knocking down 10 of 11 from the charity stripe.
Ole Miss returns for a second straight weekend game at home, hosting LSU for a Saturday night battle (Jan. 18). The first game of this season’s home-and-home series begins at 7 p.m. CT inside The Pavilion at Ole Miss, and it will be broadcast on ESPN2.