Bench Lifts Ole Miss Past Auburn
OXFORD, Miss. – After one of the nation’s top defenses gave up 80 points in back-to-back games, the Ole Miss Rebels again found their touch to win their first SEC contest of the season Wednesday. Behind 34 points from the bench, the Rebels (6-3, 1-1 SEC) got back on track and found familiar success against the Auburn Tigers with a 72-61 victory at The Pavilion.
Ole Miss has now won 13 of the past 17 games over the Tigers.
“You have to give Auburn credit. They are built for coming back,” Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said. “At times, it was the best we played all year. We moved the ball in transition…we had a happy locker room, and that’s what we needed before we host South Carolina Saturday.”
The Rebels shot 46 percent from the floor and forced 16 turnovers defensively, the ninth time in nine games forcing more than 15. Ole Miss also had a whopping 34 points come from the bench led by Khadim Sy’s 13 points. The senior scored 11 points in the first half with the help of a trio of threes. The Rebels also shot a season-high 85 percent from the free throw line (11 of 13).
Romello White and Luis Rodriguez each added 12 points, while Jarkel Joiner had nine and Austin Crowley had eight. Crowley led Ole Miss with a career-high 10 rebounds in a game where his team took control for the majority of play. Dishing out assists all night was Devontae Shuler, whose career-high 10 were the most be a Rebel in six years.
Auburn was led by Jaylin Williams, who scored a game-high 24 points. The Tiger was 7 of 14 from the field, including 6 of 10 from long range.
The first three possessions of the game resulted in points, the first of which being a Rodriguez shot from beyond the arc. Rodriguez and White combined for all nine of Ole Miss’ points going into the game’s first media timeout up 9-7. After a back-and-forth sequence of events, the Rebels created a little separation thanks to a 6-0 run, holding the Tigers scoreless for over three minutes.
Auburn proceeded to heat back up with four straight made shots and a big run of their own. Sy drilled a three-pointer to give Ole Miss a 20-16 lead with 11:20 remaining in the first half. The Rebels proceeded to dominate on both ends of the floor with an 11-1 run as the Tigers went on a seven-minute drought without a field goal. KJ Buffen’s and-one basket with the converted free throw bumped the advantage to 11 with just under eight to play in the half. That lead would go as high 16, and the Rebels went into the locker room up 43-29 thanks to Sy’s third three-pointer with seconds left.
Ole Miss shot 44 percent from the floor while forcing Auburn to shoot 37 percent in the first half. The Rebels forced eight turnovers and didn’t commit one until 5:39 left in the half. Sy led the way for Ole Miss with 11 points, including a perfect 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. White added eight while Rodriguez had seven, most of which came within the game’s opening minutes. Crowley finished the half with a team-high eight rebounds.
Coming out of the locker room, the Rebels made four of five from the field and opened up their biggest lead of the game at 18, going into the first media timeout up 52-34. As Ole Miss saw its lead gradually dwindle down to just eight with less than five minutes left to play, the Rebels responded with a 7-0 run and a thunderous poster dunk from Rodriguez to go up 15 and keep Auburn from threatening. Ole Miss would not be denied from that point on, securing the SEC victory.
Up next, Ole Miss concludes the three-game homestand by welcoming South Carolina to The Pavilion (Jan. 9). Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
- Ole Miss has won 13 of the past 17 matchups against Auburn.
- The Rebel bench outscored Auburn’s bench 34-9.
- Devontae Shuler dished out 10 assists, the most by a Rebel since Jarvis Summers had 10 in the NCAA Tournament First Four game versus BYU (March 17, 2015).
- Shuler recorded three steals, giving him 161 for his career and moving him past Gerald Glass (159) into fifth on the program’s all-time steals list.
- Khadim Sy scored a team-high 13 points off the bench; Sy had 13 points total through four games this season.
- Sy went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc for a new career high in threes made.
- Austin Crowley brought down a team-high 10 rebounds off the bench, easily passing his previous career high of four.
- Ole Miss forced 16 Auburn turnovers; the Rebels have forced at least 15 turnovers in all nine games this season.
- Freshman Matthew Murrell made his first career start.