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Ole Miss Gifts Kermit Davis Birthday Win

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team kept on rolling on Kermit Davis‘ 61st birthday Monday night (Dec. 14) to remain unbeaten on the season, and the defense made sure of it. The Rebels (3-0) found big chunks of points off turnovers and the bench to defeat Central Arkansas and their coach, former Ole Miss basketball great Anthony Boone, 68-54 at The Pavilion.

The game was Davis’ 800th career game as a college head coach and also capped off a three-game homestand over five days.

“It sure was good to have Anthony Boone back in Oxford. He meant so much to so many people here around Ole Miss,” Davis said. “Our team, you saw our energy level at times. Devontae Shuler is playing at a high level now. We have to keep building confidence.”

Once again, defense was the name of the game for Ole Miss. The Rebels outscored the Bears on turnovers 27-3, forcing 22 miscues throughout the night. Crashing the glass with 16 offensive rebounds, Ole Miss came up with 17 second chance points.

The Rebels finished with three in double figures for the first time this season. Devontae Shuler led the way with 20 points to go along with team highs in assists (4) and steals (2) as well. Robert Allen and Luis Rodriguez each added 12 points, a season high for Allen. Romello White finished with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.

Ole Miss, coming in ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense, held Central Arkansas to a season-low 54 points and 35 percent from the floor. Rylan Bergersen paced the Bears with 14 points.

Just like two days prior, Ole Miss attacked the paint early on. It worked as White had a few quick buckets, while Rodriguez connected from three going into the game’s first timeout the Rebels leading 9-4. Ole Miss’ bench depth began to be shuffle the lineup early and often. Coming off the bench, Allen surpassed his season average with two physically-challenging buckets in the paint just before the midway point of the first half.

Continuing an early trend this season, Ole Miss proceeded to force a seven-minute drought with stout paint defense and forced 11 straight misses from the floor. Late in the first half, redshirt-freshman Shon Robinson also made his first points of the season, tipping in Shuler’s missed three-point attempt.

The Bears missed 12 of 14 shots to end the first half, and the Rebels went into the locker room leading 35-23. After 20 minutes, Ole Miss shot 44 percent from the floor while forcing UCA to an eye-popping 24 percent (5 of 21). Shuler had 14 points, while White tallied eight at the break.

Five minutes into the second half, Ole Miss increased its lead to 19 by forcing four turnovers and causing Boone to take a timeout. Deandre Jones, UCA’s second-leading scorer and assists leader also, picked up his fifth foul with 14 minutes remaining and ended the night with only two points. The Bears would continue to try and scrap their way back into the game, but Ole Miss maintained a comfortable lead to remain unbeaten.

With the conclusion of the three-game homestand to start the season, the Rebels hit the road for the first time. Ole Miss heads to Murfreesboro to face Middle Tennessee (Dec. 16) in Kermit Davis‘ return to his former school. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network.

TIPINS

  • Ole Miss is off to a 3-0 start for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
  • The Rebels won on Kermit Davis‘ 61st birthday and his 800th game as a college basketball head coach; he has a career record of 507-293 (.634).
  • Devontae Shuler produced his eighth career 20-point game, including the second this season.
  • Shuler passed Rahim Lockhart (148) for ninth on the Rebels’ all-time steals list and now has 150 for his career.
  • Ole Miss held a 27-3 advantage in points off turnovers, forcing 22 UCA turnovers throughout the night.
  • Robert Allen scored 12 points with six rebounds off the bench, both bests as a Rebel.
  • The Rebels concluded a perfect three-game homestand and now face back-to-back road games.