The Ole Miss men’s basketball team battled for 40 minutes against one of the best teams in the Southeastern Conference, but No. 15 Auburn proved why it’s unbeaten at home this season and delivered a 67-58 loss to the Rebels (13-15, 4-11 SEC).
Ole Miss slowed down the high-scoring Tigers (24-4, 11-4 SEC), holding them to their fewest points at home this season. The Rebels were in it at the end despite somewhat of an off night from senior Breein Tyree. The SEC’s leading scorer tallied 16 points on 3 of 19 shooting, while knocking down 8 of 9 free throws. As a team, the Rebels shot the ball well from the charity stripe, making 17 of 19 (89.5 percent). KJ Buffen had his best game in the month of February, matching Tyree with 16 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds.
Austin Wiley had a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) to pace Auburn, while Samir Doughty added 14 points. The Rebels limited the Tigers to 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) shooting from behind the arc.
Auburn jumped out to an early seven-point lead, but the Rebels sliced into the deficit, 11-9, as Tyree and Buffen scored the team’s first nine points. A 12-0 run pushed the Tigers ahead by 14 midway through the first half.
The Rebels weathered the storm and continued to battle, slicing the deficit in half by the time the buzzer sounded. Tyree drilled his second three of the game as the seconds trickled down, and Ole Miss went into the locker room down seven, 31-24. The senior had half of the team’s points, while eight different Tigers scored in the opening 20 minutes for a balanced attack from the home team.
After going scoreless in the first half, Devontae Shuler scored five quick points with an elbow jumper and a three from the wing to start the second half. Buffen added back-to-back buckets to make it a one-possession game, 36-33. Ole Miss kept Auburn scoreless for four minutes, but the Rebels had their own trouble finding the bucket. A pair of Tyree free throws cut the margin to two. However, Auburn remained in front as the Rebels went eight minutes without a field goal.
A 9-0 run put the Tigers up 12 before Blake Hinson and Bryce Williams hit back-to-back threes to slice the deficit in half. Buffen added two free throws, and just like that the Rebels were within four, 58-54 with 3:55 to go. Down the stretch, Auburn maintained its lead by converting at the free-throw line and held on for a single-digit win.
Up next, the Rebels play their final two home games of the season. First, Vanderbilt comes to The Pavilion for a Saturday afternoon matchup (Feb. 29). Tipoff is slated for noon on SEC Network.
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