Collectively the Rebels said they learned some things in the 73-66 loss at LSU. Once again they learned they have to finish.
Against the Volunteers they clearly did that.
Up only 34-32 at halftime, the Rebels moved out to a double-digit lead at 45-35 on a David Huertas 3-pointer with 16:48 left, which may have been the spark the Rebels needed given the junior guard was 1-for-5 for two points in the first half.
The lead was 50-35 a couple of minutes later on a Zach Graham trey. The crowd was into it. The Rebels were confident. And Tennessee was in trouble.
The Volunteers never got it to single digits again. The Rebels led by as much as 18 points before this one was through.
"This was disappointing for us," said UT head coach Bruce Pearl after his team fell to 16-9 overall and 7-4 in Southeastern Conference play. "Ole Miss played very well, and we really struggled throughout."
Certainly his team did in the second half as Ole Miss heated up, shooting 53.3 percent from the floor.
"I don't remember when we've shot 50 percent in a half," UM head coach Andy Kennedy said after his team sank 16 of 30 shots following intermission.
Not only did the Rebels do that, they shot 51 percent for the game (29-57). It was a confident team playing at home on this night.
"When you're at home, you play a little more confidently," said Kennedy, his team now 14-11 and 5-6 and making things more interesting as the season moves toward late February.
The Rebels continued their impressive board play as the season has moved on, outrebounding the visiting Vols 44-30 including a substantial 30-19 advantage on the defensive end.
Ole Miss was 6-20 from 3-point range (30 percent) and 17-28 from the free throw line (61 percent).
Tennessee shot 42 percent from the floor (24-57), 25 percent from behind the arc (6-24), and 46 percent from the line (11-24).
Ole Miss was paced by Terrico White with 21 points, followed by Murphy Holloway with 18. Huertas had 16 when all was said and done. Holloway also had an impressive 13 rebounds.
"He had a great night," Kennedy said of Holloway. "He's getting better and better. He's really active. He's starting to get an understanding of what we're trying to do."
For the Vols, Wayne Chism scored 19 and Tyler Smith had 16.
Tennessee is at Kentucky Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Ole Miss hosts Georgia Saturday at 4 p.m. Central. It's Celebration Saturday for the Rebel basketball program, which will introduce its All-Century Team at halftime.
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