The Ole Miss Rebels sent the Memphis Tigers back on I-55 with a loss on Saturday. The Rebels 85-77 victory is their 3rd straight win in the rivalry series. This win for the Rebels comes after a disappointing performance in a loss to Middle Tennessee. The Rebels showed the ability to bounce back from defeat and finish the three-game home stand on a high note, which was something that Head Coach Andy Kennedy knew was important.
“Coaches aren’t supposed to say this, but this was a must win,” Kennedy said. “We knew in order for our season to have hope, you have to protect your home floor. You certainly can’t drop two-in-a-row at home prior to going to an ACC team next.”
The Rebels followed their senior leader to victory as Sebastian Saiz’s double-double paved the way. Saiz finished with a team-high 20 points and 16 rebounds. Saiz and Deandre Burnett, who finished with 19, remained in the starting lineup after the loss to MTSU, but Kennedy decided to make changes to his lineup heading into the Memphis game. Kennedy’s changes to starting lineup included the first start of the season for freshman Breein Tyree, 6th man Terrance Davis and big man Marcanvis Hymon. Kennedy praised the energy that the team played with early and that energy led to a 47-37 lead at the half. Tyree hit a 3 to begin the game, and Hymon’s defense throughout the game were much-needed additions to the Rebels attack after what Kennedy described as a “debacle” against MTSU.
The Tigers clawed their way back into the game and eventually took a 5 point lead with just under 8 minuted to go in the second half. The Rebels showed resilience and went on a 20-3 run to retake a commanding lead which they never relinquished. The Rebels finished just 11 turnovers, one of their lowest totals of the season. The shakeup in the starting lineup gave the Rebels a spark on both sides of the floor, and Kennedy praised his young team’s effort while noting that there’s still room to improve.
“We’re growing as a team. The reality was, we’ve got a lot of guys in a lot of spots who
have never been there. It’s nice to grow with a win, especially in a rivalry game. It’s very important to a lot of Ole Miss people, Kennedy said. “I wish we would’ve been a little smoother, but quite frankly, I think we probably needed that. If we can grow from it and learn from it.”
The Rebels will travel to Blacksburg to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on December 11. That game can be seen on ESPNU, and the Rebels will return to the Pavilion on December 15 to take on Murray State.
For a full gallery of photos from Saturday’s game, click here.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.