OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Senior Stefan Moody tied a career high with 29 points and junior Sebastian Saiz recorded his thrid career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, as Ole Miss knocked off Northwestern State 90-76 to open the season Friday.
Moody tied his career high, added five rebounds and five assists as the Rebels placed four players in double figures and never trailed.
“He did exactly what we ask of him,” said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. “It's a weight he has to carry right now, but we expect that to change as the season goes on.We got him some help as we got deeper in the game.”
Juniors Sam Finley and Rasheed Brooks added 16 and 11 points, respectively. The Rebels (1-0) led 38-32 at halftime and preserved the lead in the second half on the strength of a 24 of 28 (85.7 percent) performance from the free throw line.
Northwestern State countered with the guard combination of Jalen West, who scored 24 of his 25 points in the second half and Zeek Woodley with22 points. West limped to the bench in the final minute and his future playing status was uncertain.
The Rebels built a 13-2 lead in the opening six minutes as Northwestern State missed 13 consecutive shots from the field. The Demons finished 25 of 70 (35.7 percent) from the field, but managed to pull within 58-55 with 10:31 left on a pair of free throws by West.
“What a player (West) he is,” said Kennedy. “He made some incredible shots to keep them hanging around and they are an outstanding team. I thought we answered by hitting free throws and not turning the ball over.”
The strong free throw shooting by the Rebels complemented a 29 of 61 (47.5 percent) performance from the field. The Rebels out rebounded the Demons 44-36 and had only four turnovers in the second half.
Ole Miss went on a 12-4 run that rebuilt the lead to an insurmountable 70-59 with 7:52 remaining. Moody had four baskets the Rebels closed with nine consecutive free throws in the final eight minutes to keep Northwestern State at a safe distance.
“There were a lot of positive things tonight,” Kennedy said. “The most positive thing is this is a quality win.”