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Gators’ Comeback Shocks Rebels

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Rebels had their largest lead of the game late in Tuesday night’s SEC showdown but could not hang on as the Florida Gators ended on a 14-0 run and knocked off Ole Miss (6-5, 1-3 SEC), 72-63 at Exactech Arena.

Devontae Shuler finished the night with a team high 19 points, 50 percent from the field (7-14). Romello Whiteadded 10 points while Jarkel Joiner had nine. KJ Buffen had a team high five rebounds. As a team, Ole Miss shot 39 percent from the floor (23-59) and a season high 46 percent beyond the arc (6-13). They forced 10 turnovers for the 11th consecutive game but were outdone in the paint and on the boards in large part to Florida’s Colin Castleton. His 21 points, 10 rebounds, and seven blocked shots made him a problem from the opening tip.

Shuler wasted little time getting Ole Miss on the board with an easy layup just nine seconds into the action. Both teams traded blows and three-pointers going into the game’s first media timeout with the score knotted at seven. Defensively, the Rebels made defending the perimeter an early priority. Florida proceeded to take advantage of three consecutive Rebel turnovers to go on a 7-0 run, giving the Gators a 14-7 lead a minute later.

Ole Miss continued to struggle offensively thanks to full court pressure and Castleton wreaking havoc in the paint. With 7:50 left in the first half, the Rebels went 6-18 from the field with five turnovers down 24-13. The Rebels tightened up defensively to force a near three-minute scoring drought and get within three points under four minutes left in the half, down 25-22. Shuler tied the game at 25 with a three-pointer with three minutes remaining, but trailed going into the locker room, down 33-31.

The Rebels shot 40 percent from the floor (12-30) at the half with Shuler totaling eight points and leading the way. Buffen added six points while Robert Allen and Joiner had four. Allen had a team leading three boards. Defensively, the Rebels had three blocks and forced four turnovers. They surrendered just 12 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Ole Miss began the second half like they did the first, with an immediate offensive jolt thanks to a Luis Rodriguez corner three-pointer. The Rebels took advantage of a Florida technical foul with Shuler hitting two free throws and retaking the lead. White became increasingly involved offensively as they had a 44-38 lead four minutes into the second half following two free throws from Buffen. Fast forward five minutes later and Ole Miss had a 51-46 lead with 9:27 left to play after forcing three turnovers in almost four minutes.

As the Rebels creeped into foul trouble down low, they continued to make tough shots all over the floor. With 6:28 left to play, Ole Miss held their largest lead of the game, 61-52. Florida proceeded to go on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to three with 4:44 left while getting into the double bonus. The Gators got back in front with a three-pointer from Noah Locke with under two minutes left. Down 66-63, White’s defensive foul and technical foul on Kermit Davis allowed Florida to take a 70-63 lead with 50 seconds left. A few more free throws would secure a win for the home team.

After the quick trip to Florida, the Rebels return home to host Georgia for a Saturday morning matchup (Jan. 16). Tipoff from The Pavilion is slated for 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

For the latest news and updates regarding Ole Miss Men’s Basketball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissMBB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Men’s Basketball and on Instagram at olemissmbb.

TIP-INS

  • Devontae Shuler scored 19 points, his most in an SEC game this season.
  • Shuler entered the game ranked 41st on the all-time scoring list and moved up three spots to No. 38 (1,052 points). He passed Todd Abernethy (1,036), Denver Brackeen (1,040) and Ron Coleman (1,046).
  • Ole Miss had its sixth different starting lineup of the season; Khadim Sy and Austin Crowley, leading scorers from the past two games coming off the bench, earned starts tonight.