Ole Miss defeated the high-powered offense of the Norfolk State Spartans 68-55 Tuesday night in the Pavilion.
“Norfolk State is a very well-coached team,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “I would be surprised if they weren’t a tournament team. They had a good presence about them.”
Ole Miss (2-0) had three different players reach double figures in scoring including leading scorer KJ Buffen with 23 points, nine rebounds and two assists. In just his second year in the program, Buffen has averaged 74 percent on making buckets from around the rim.
“(Buffen) can play through contact better as he is shooting the ball from 15 to 16 feet from the basket,” Davis said. “He has gotten off to a great start and is just playing with a great deal of confidence.”
“Pre-game I have spent a lot of time working on my touch around the rim,” Buffen said.
Senior Breein Tyree (21) and Devontae Shuler (12) also added a double-digit tally to the stat book in the contest.
The Rebels defense held Norfolk State to 32.7 percent from the floor in the game. According to Davis, the team played a 1-3-1 to a 2-3 zone to slow the Spartans down, which forced 17 turnovers.
“We had to go to it and it changed the tempo down to where they could not drive the ball on top of us like in the first half,” Davis said.
Ole Miss shot 51 percent from the field, 33.3 from beyond the arc and went 11-of-17 from the charity stripe. The Spartans made the Rebels give up the ball 13 times.
Next week, Ole Miss looks to get guard/forward Blake Henson back into the lineup. Coaches said they look to play him and Buffen on the court at the same time.
“We may play Blake and KJ at the 4 and the 5 with two forwards like I did at Middle a lot,” Davis said.
The Rebels return to action on Friday night as they welcome Western Michigan into the Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. on the SEC Network +.