Rebels let go of big lead, fall in OT

Rebels let go of big lead, fall in OT
SOURCE: Ole Miss Athletics (Source: Ole Miss Athletics)

OXFORD, Miss. - A back-and-forth battle at The Pavilion needed 50 minutes of play before deciding a winner, coming down to the final second. In the end, a Blake Hinson three at the buzzer did not fall as the Ole Miss men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking double overtime defeat to No. 16 Auburn 83-82.

Junior guard Devontae Shuler led the Rebels (10-10, 1-6 SEC), especially down the stretch after senior Breein Tyree fouled out with five minutes left in regulation. The Irmo, South Carolina, native scored a career-high 26 points to go along with team highs in assists (5) and steals (3). Shuler tallied half of his points at the charity stripe, going 13 of 18, while shooting 6 of 10 from the field. Playing a career-high 48 minutes, he showed his stamina by scoring nine of the Rebels’ points during the two overtime periods.

Hinson also played the majority of the game, logging 49 minutes and scoring 16 points. In the post, Khadim Sy and KJ Buffen reached double figures for the second consecutive game. Sy tallied 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds, while Buffen scored 10 points. Both forwards were on the floor for 37 minutes apiece.

Auburn (18-2, 5-2 SEC) had five Tigers in double figures behind Anfernee McLemore’s 19 points off the bench. Samir Doughty added 17 points in 45 minutes. While Ole Miss held Auburn to 38.1 percent (24 of 63) from the field, the Tigers went to the free throw line 36 times and made 26 of their attempts (72.2 percent).

Ole Miss locked down on defense right from the tip, forcing the shot clock to expire on three of Auburn’s first four possessions. On the other side of the floor, the Rebels made five straight buckets. Buffen drove to the hoop for Ole Miss’ first points of the game before Sy finished down low.

A Tyree three followed another Buffen bucket, while Shuler stole the ball at midcourt and found Hinson for an easy deuce to put Ole Miss up nine. The pressure defense continued as the Rebels forced seven turnovers over the first nine minutes, holding Auburn to 1 of 10 shooting. Ole Miss kept the Tigers scoreless for an eight-minute stretch, going on a 15-0 run. Midway through the first half, Ole Miss led 19-5 behind points from seven different Rebels.

Auburn cut the margin to single digits, 22-13, before Shuler sparked seven consecutive points for the Red and Blue. The junior drilled a corner three, and his classmate, Sy, added a baby hook. Swiping the ball from the Tigers, Shuler took the ball coast-to-coast for the finish, forcing Auburn to call timeout.

Keeping the visitors without a bucket for seven minutes, the Ole Miss lead grew to 18. Following an Auburn three, Shuler found Sy down low to put Ole Miss up 37-20 at the half. The Rebels shot 56.0 percent (14 of 25) in the first half behind 10 points from Hinson and eight from Sy. Meanwhile, Ole Miss limited Auburn to only six buckets and a 21.4 percent clip (6 of 28).

The Rebels flipped 10 Tiger turnovers into 17 points over the first 20 minutes. Ole Miss scored the first points of the second half before Auburn went on a 10-0 run to get the game back to single digits, 39-30. However, the Rebels maintained the lead and pushed it back to 17. Back-to-back threes by Hinson made it 48-31. The game of runs continue as 12 straight by the Tigers over only 1:54 of playing time got the visitors within five, 48-43, with 10:21 to go in regulation.

The Rebels doubled their lead to 10, but Auburn kept knocking down threes to get it back within single digits. Shuler countered on the other end, scoring seven points for Ole Miss over three possessions. With Ole Miss up nine, 63-54, with 5:35 in the second half, Tyree fouled out of the game. Auburn took advantage by going on a 10-1 run to tie the game at 64-64.

Doughty made a contested layup to give Auburn the lead with 50 seconds to go. Going down the floor, Shuler drew a foul and converted two clutch free throws to knot the game up with 32 seconds on the clock. Using the 1-3-1 zone, the Rebels forced a tough shot with time winding down. The three caromed off the back of the rim, sending the game into overtime.

Auburn built a five-point lead with one minute to go before Shuler brought the Rebels back. An old-fashioned three-point play started it before Ole Miss got a defensive stop. Shuler grabbed the rebound and was fouled, completing the double bonus on the other end and tying the game at 77-77 with 22 seconds left.

Another Auburn miss at the buzzer forced five more minutes. In the second overtime, each team alternated one free throw apiece before Buffen drove to the hole on consecutive possessions and pushed Ole Miss ahead by four. However, Auburn answered and scored the final five points of the game.

After forcing a miss, Hinson pulled up from the top of the key for a three as the seconds wound down. The shot bounced off the left side of the rim, and the horn sounded with the scoreboard in favor of Auburn.

The week battling Tigers continues as the Rebels head south to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Feb. 1). Ole Miss will look to avenge an 80-76 loss to LSU earlier this season (Jan. 18). Tipoff for Saturday’s game against the No 22 Tigers is set for 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

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