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Ole Miss Drops Heartbreaker to Wichita State 83-79

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss men’s basketball team made Wichita State pay for miscues, scoring 29 points off 15 turnovers alone, but Tyson Etienne proved to be too much down the stretch as the Rebels (5-3, 0-1 SEC) fell to the Shockers 83-79 at The Pavilion Saturday to cap off non-conference play.

Devontae Shuler made a career-high six made three-pointers on the way to his third 20-point game of the season. KJ Buffen added a season-high 18 points while Romello Whiteadded 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. As a unit, the Rebels shot 42 percent (27 of 65) from the floor with a season-high nine three-pointers. However, the nation’s No. 9 scoring defense struggled to keep up with the Shockers as they shot 52 percent from the floor a went 9 of 20 beyond the arc behind Etienne’s career-high 29 points.

Despite some high pressure defense early on for Wichita State, the Shockers had few answers for White in the early going, scoring the Rebels’ first six points from the field. However, four straight Wichita State buckets forced Kermit Davis to call the game’s first timeout, down 9-6, with 16:26 left in the first half. Luis Rodriguez snapped a 7-0 run with Ole Miss’ first three of the game.

The Shockers continued their hot start, making 8 of 10 shots to take an 18-13 lead, seven of those points coming from Dexter Dennis. Two minutes later, Matthew Murrell’s three-pointer started a 6-0 run to give the Rebels their first lead since the game’s first few possessions.

The game would go back-and-forth briefly until Ole Miss forced three turnovers in two minutes, making way for another 6-0 run to lead 33-27 with 3:41 left in the half. A pair of three-point baskets from Shuler made sure Ole Miss retained the lead going into the locker room. Ole Miss led 41-39 at halftime.

The Rebels shot 46 percent from the floor, including 54 percent beyond the arc and a season-high seven threes over the opening 20 minutes. Ole Miss took advantage of 10 turnovers, scoring 17 points off of them. Shuler had 12 points in the first half followed by eight points from White.

Shuler brought his hot hand into the second half with another three, his fifth of the game, on Ole Miss’ first second half possession to give Ole Miss a five-point lead right off the bat. With less than 16 minutes to go, the Rebels had their biggest lead of the night at 50-43. That lead would diminish with 11:17 left in the game. After a made free throw from Etienne, Ole Miss had a slim 58-57 lead. However, the Rebels countered with a 6-0 run.

The Shockers chipped away at the deficit and take their first lead of the game off of an Etienne three-pointer with just under five minutes to play. The visitors preserved that lead with under a minute left in the game by knocking down free throws and keeping the Rebels from making a field goal.

After their six-game home winning streak was snapped, the Rebels have a chance to start a new one with two SEC matchups next week. First, the Rebels host Auburn for a Wednesday night (Jan. 6) battle on SEC Network (8 p.m. CT). Ole Miss concludes the three-game homestand by welcoming South Carolina to The Pavilion (Jan. 9) with tipoff set for 5 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

TIPINS

  • Ole Miss saw its six-game home winning streak (dating back to last season) come to an end.
  • The Rebels finish the regular season non-conference schedule with a record of 5-2.
  • Ole Miss made 7 of 13 from beyond the arc in the first half, its most threes made in a half this season.
  • Devontae Shuler made a career-high six three-pointers, the most threes made by a Rebel since Breein Tyree made eight against Middle Tennessee last season (Dec. 14, 2019).
  • Shuler scored a team-high 20 points, his third 20-point game of the season and the ninth of his career.
  • Tallying three steals, Shuler passed Joe Ayers (157) to move into sixth on Ole Miss’ all-time steals list with 158 for his career.
  • KJ Buffen scored a season-high 18 points to reach double figures for the fifth straight game, the longest active streak on the team.
  • Luis Rodriguez recorded a career-high four steals.