After falling behind 10-2 right out of the gate, Ole Miss rebounded to cruise past Rutgers 80-67 Saturday afternoon. It was a game marred by terrible shooting, particularly from the line, but the Rebels showed a lot of resiliency in their first trifle with adversity this season.
Both teams came into the game with a physical mentality, with a double-technical coming before the second TV timeout. Jarvis Summers was the guilty party for the Rebels with Jerome Seagears garnering the tech for the Knights. The next possession down saw a vociferous celebration by Murphy Holloway after a put-back, something that proved to be too much for a referee crew looking to test the durability of their whistles.
Ole Miss completed a rare feat by finishing with a better shooting percentage from the field than they did from the free throw line. Free throws have been an ongoing struggle for Andy Kennedy’s club with Saturday being no exception. As a team, Ole Miss was 17-39 in the game, including 6-21 in the first half. They were 28-64 from the field with another tough night for Marshall Henderson who was 4-13.
While Henderson did not provide a consistent shot, he was the spark plug for the offense. Each time one of his three-pointers fell down, the house came with it. Whether he was on the floor or on the bench, he was feeding the crowd energy and enthusiasm. The junior finished with a game-high 18 points and was at 7-9, was the only Rebel to shoot above 50 percent from the line.
Unsurprisingly enough, Kennedy got another huge double-double out of Murphy Holloway. The crowd-favorite had 17 points to go along with 15 rebounds. With his 15 rebound performance, Holloway moved into 3rd in the nation in rebounds per 40 minutes with 16.1. He also had 4 assists and 3 steals in the victory.
The Rebels also got their second double-double of the season out of Reginald Buckner. The SEC leader in blocks per game had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks, despite playing most of the second half on a bum ankle. In a game where physicality proved to be paramount early on, the Rebels got tough play out of their bigs.
Snoop White and Summers each had their best games of the season. White was 5-6 from the field including 3-4 from deep and finished with 13 points. Summers had 12 points, but more impressively he had 5 assists and 0 turnovers.
Locked in a slugfest all afternoon, both teams knew that winning the rebounding battle would be big. While Ole Miss barely edged out Rutgers 38-37 in total rebounds, the Rebels had 13 offensive boards to just 6 by the Knights. Another telling stat of the game was the Rebels’ +6 turnover margin. While the 14 turnovers forced were their lowest of the season, they only turned it over 8 times, also a low on the year. Winning the turnover battle will be key if Kennedy is to make his first trip to the “big dance”.
Myles Mack and Dane Miller played well for Rutgers, adding 15 and 14 points respectively. Star guard Eli Carter ended up with 10 points, but was just 1-12 from the field.
Ole Miss is one of just three SEC schools who was victorious in the SEC/Big East Challenge along with Florida (who beat Marquette) and LSU (who defeated Seton Hall).
Rutgers fell to 4-2 with the loss and will return to action Saturday against Iona in the MSG Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.
Ole Miss improved to 6-0 with the win and will be making their first road trip of the season on Saturday when they travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to take on Middle Tennessee State.
Topics: Andy Kennedy, Dane Miller, Eli Carter, Jarvis Summers, Jerome Seagears, Marshall Henderson, Msg Holiday Festival, Murphy Holloway, Myles Mack, Reginald Buckner, Rutgers Basketball, Sec Basketball, Snoop White