By: Brian Scott Rippee
Ole Miss was destroyed on the interior from start to finish against Texas A&M on Wednesday night, and it resulted in the Aggies topping the Rebels 80-76 for the Rebels’ second home SEC loss in three tries this season.
Robert Williams and Tyler Davis had their way down low and were a big reason why Texas A&M shot 62% from the field, and build a 47-39 lead at half. Davis had Tack on 15 first half points from Admon Gilder, who had 22 in the game, and Ole Miss was in a world of trouble.
Williams grabbed 14 board and Davis was 9-11 from the field, most all of his looks came at point blank range. Ole Miss allowed the two big men to catch the basketball too low and close to the basket and it amounted to 44 Aggie points in the paint.
Ole Miss was out-rebounded 39-23 in the game. Texas A&M grabbed as many offensive rebounds (16) as the Rebels had on the defensive end.
As much as offense has been a struggle for the Rebels this season, it wasn’t the case in this one. The Rebels made 11 three pointers and shot 25-55 from the field. They put up 39 in the first half, and had three guys score at least 15 points. They just didn’t have an answer defensively. Terence Davis continued to provide a lift offensively with 16 points of his own. He was 5-8 trom three-point range. Sebastian Saiz and Deandre Burnett each had 19.
Ole Miss chipped away in the second half, cutting the lead to a basket a handful of times, but could not come up with a stop on the defensive end to push itself over the hump. A Cullen Neal three pointer tied the game at 73 with a minute left, but Texas A&M grabbed the crucial rebounds and recorded the stops it needed in the game’s final minute.
A game that presented an opportunity to earn a win over a good opponent and to get back to .500 in SEC play, ended with Andy Kennedy yet again searching for answers for a team that’s been pretty difficult to figure out this year. Justas Furmanavicius had just two rebounds in 32 minutes, and Saiz had seven. It’s not going to get any easier for this team, either. Baylor comes to town on Saturday and boasts a similar front court in terms of length and athleticism, something that proved to be an issue for the Rebels on Wednesday night.
Ole Miss is running out of chances for quality wins, though there are still a couple sprinkled amongst the remaining schedule, but a frustrated Kennedy said that the big picture wasn’t on his team’s mind and that they’ve had to focus on themselves improving a lot and will continue to do so as the season churns on.
(Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy)
On the loss: “When you allow an SEC opponent to come in your building, with their leading scorer over there in a boot, and they shoot 51% from the field, score 80 and get as many offensive rebounds as you have defensive rebounds, it’s a miracle that we were in the game." On not getting a stop down the stretch: “We just couldn’t come up with the big stop. It seemed like every time we needed it --and they gave us opportunities -- They had a stretch where they missed four or five shots, yet retained possession of the ball. We can’t get the ball, and you need to get the ball to win.” On the season moving forward: "Our view has never been anything other than ‘guys we have got to get better. We are not talking big picture. We’ve got to get better. The guard play has been problematic, then we're moving guys around when Dre got hurt and now with the Rasheed situation, we are just trying to figure out how to fill holes."
OXFORD, Miss. -- (AP) Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy had seen this scenario before with an unhappy ending. This time, the script was flipped.
The Aggies (12-8, 3-5), on the strength of a Admon Gilder's career-high 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, dominated the final 90 seconds Wednesday night to defeat Mississippi 80-76 and snap a three-game road losing streak in the SEC.
"We've been ahead in so many games," said Kennedy, whose club outscored the Rebels 7-3 in the decisive stretch run. "This time we closed it out. We finished the right way and this is a big step for us."
Tyler Davis added 20 points, shooting 9 of 11 from the field, while Robert Williams added 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The Aggies outrebounded the Rebels 39-23 and hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final nine minutes to preserve the win.
Ole Miss (12-8, 3-5) was led by Sebastian Saiz and Terence Davis with 19 points apiece. Deandre Burnett added 16 points and seven assists for the Rebels, who trailed 47-39 at halftime.
The Aggies shot 29 of 57 (51 percent) from the field and 7 of 18 (39 percent) from 3-point range. Ole Miss was 27 of 55 (49 percent) from the field and 11 of 25 (44 percent) from 3-point range, including 5 of 8 from Davis.
"I thought TD (Terence Davis) was fantastic in the second half and we had opportunities," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "They were bigger, faster and stronger up front and we just weren't able to come up with the big stop when we had to have it."
Texas A&M: The Aggies won their second consecutive game for the first time since December 10. Williams had five dunks in the first half. The road win should provide confidence as four of the next six games are on the road.
Ole Miss: The Rebels were unable to get a defensive stop and turned the ball over twice in the final 90 seconds. Aside from another solid performance from Saiz, the Rebels could not match the Aggies inside and struggled from the free throw line, hitting 11 of 17 (64 percent).
Ole Miss had wiped out a 10-point second-half deficit to pull into a 73-73 tie on Cullen Neal's 3-point shot with 1:41 left. Texas A&M answered when Tyler Davis sneaked behind a half-court trap for a layup on an assist from Gilder to take a 75-73 lead with 1:22 left. The Aggies never trailed again.
STAT LINE OF THE NIGHT
Gilder played the entire game without a substitution to finish with 22 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and four steals. The sophomore guard was 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 6 of 6 from the free throw line, including a pair inside the final 40 seconds to keep the Aggies safely in the lead.
"He can make shots when you give him good looks," Kennedy said. "We did a good job making that extra pass against their zone to get him those good shots."
Texas A&M visits No.18 West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.
Ole Miss hosts No. 5 Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.