OXFORD — Turnovers were what kept Ole Miss in this game, and with the huge win over the Vols, the Rebels move even closer to an NCAA Tournament berth.
Once again junior guard Stefan Moody put the Rebels on his back by posting 22 points, six steals, four rebounds, and two assists in Ole Miss’ 59-57 edge over Tennessee. Moody continues his amazing performances from behind the arch, as 18 of his 22 points were from three-point range.
Senior guard Jarvis Summers finally came to fruition after posting some good numbers from the floor. The Rebels’ leader was averaging 6.6 points per game in his previous six games and was able to record 13 tonight against Tennessee. Summers once again finished as the team leader with eight assists tonight, and has 67 in his last 10 games..
Senior guard LaDarius White, who has been leading Ole Miss’ bench consistently this season, led the Rebels’ bench with five points in the win over Tennessee.
For much of this season, the Rebels have been a second half team and generally have struggled in most first half performances. However, Saturday night was a different story. Ole Miss started things off strong in the first half after displaying a 9-0 run, and leading 14-7 at the 9:01 mark.
Tennessee would recover and pull together their own first half rally. After Devon Baulkman made a three-point jumper with 45 seconds left, the Vols would carry a 30-27 lead into halftime. Of course, this is not something different from the norm for the Rebels. Ole Miss has won eight of their last nine games and have trailed at the half in seven of them.
The Vols continued their halftime momentum with a 11-5 run in the first five minutes of the second. This performance was highlighted by a three-pointer from the Vols’ Kevin Punter, giving Tennessee a 41-33 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Over the course of the next six minutes of play, Ole Miss was able to rally on a 16-6 run and re-gain the lead after a forced turnover by Moody followed up with the lay-up. The Rebels then led 49-47 with 9:35 left in the game.
Moving forward, Summers would step to the free-throw line with a one-point Rebel lead and 27 seconds left in game. Having the opportunity to force the Vols to go for three, Summers was only able to capitalize on one of the two attempts, giving Ole Miss a 59-57 lead with just 27 seconds left in the game.
Tennessee guard Josh Richardson came up with the defensive rebound on the play, but was unable to drain his three-point attempt. However, the Vols were able to collect the offensive rebound and call timeout with just nine seconds left in the game. On the next play, Richardson once again attempted a jumper, this time from two-point range with the intent to force the game into overtime, but once again came up short and Martavious Newby hauled in the rebound to seal the Rebels’ victory.
The Rebels finished 21 of 54 (38.9 percent) from the floor, including 11 of 31 from 3-point range. The Rebels, who ranked second in the nation in free throw percentage coming into the game, managed only 6 of 10 from the charity stripe, but got two from Moody and one from Summers in the final two minutes for the margin of victory.
After the win, Ole Miss improves to 19-8 overall and 10-4 in SEC Play, tying Texas A&M for 3rd place in the league, behind Arkansas and 1st place No. 1 Kentucky.
Ole Miss will be back at the Tad Pad on Wednesday night to seek revenge against Georgia, after losing to the Bulldogs 75-71 last month in Athens. Tip off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. CST and can be watched on the SEC Network.