Ole Miss men’s basketball falls short to Samford, 75-73

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2021

OXFORD, Miss. – Despite battling until the final buzzer, Ole Miss men’s basketball came up short to a hot three-point shooting Samford team, with the Rebels falling 75-73 to the Bulldogs on Tuesday afternoon.
Ole Miss (8-4) battled Samford (10-2) to the very end, with four different Rebels finishing in double-digit scoring in the team’s late second half comeback bid. In the end, it was the shooting of the Bulldogs that reigned supreme, with Samford finishing the day shooting an Ole Miss opponent season-high 51.9 percent overall on a 27-of-53 clip, as well as also going a Rebel opponent best 45.8 percent from three-point range on 11-of-24 shooting. This, paired with a large 25-6 Samford run to open the second half proved to be just enough for the Bulldogs to survive a ferocious Rebel comeback fueled by shutting down the Bulldog offense from the field over the final 3:08.
“Our team has struggled a lot this year starting some second halves. Give Samford credit, they came out and we couldn’t guard them,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “We hadn’t done it lately, but we had wide-open looks and let it affect us on the other end. They just kind of jumped out 10 or 12. Give Samford a lot of credit, they played really hard and their point guard (Ques Glover) was really good today. They battled.”
Early on, the Rebels looked to carry their recent defensive momentum with seven first-half turnovers – two apiece in the opening frame from Jaemyn Brakefield and Daeshun Ruffin. Samford was equally as hot shooting the ball in the first half on a 46.4 percent overall mark and a 5-of-11 performance from three, but the Rebels were able to stay ahead 42-36 at the break thanks to a 41.7 percent effort of their own and a plus-five edge on the glass.
The start of the second half proved to be a different story, though, as the Bulldogs opened the half with a monster 25-6 run over the first 8:08 that included an 11-0 stretch from 17:01 to 15:07, giving Samford a 13-point lead over the Rebels with 11:52 to go. Samford was led by sophomore guard Ques Glover, who ended with a game-high 21 points.
The Bulldogs looked to have all of the momentum entering the final 10 minutes of action after their hot start, but the Rebels did not go quietly. Behind Daeshun Ruffin’s 17-point performance and other bright spots from Jarkel Joiner (15 points), Luis Rodriguez (13 points) and Jaemyn Brakefield (11 points), Ole Miss chipped away at the deficit bit-by-bit. The Rebels ignited the crowd at SJB Pavilion with a 9-0 run that began at 7:22 and ended with Ole Miss drawing even with Samford, 68-68, at the final media timeout with 3:56 to go.
Samford immediately responded coming out of the timeout, ripping of five unanswered to go back up 73-68, but a long Brakefield jumper at 1:53 that was originally ruled a three-pointer and a Nysier Brooks (eight points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal) layup with 26 seconds left brought it back down to a one-point game at 73-72. Ole Miss intentionally fouled Samford’s Cooper Kaifes (nine points, four rebounds) with 20 seconds left, and Kaifes hit both crucial free tries to put the Bulldogs up 75-72.
Samford returned the favor, intentionally fouling Jarkel Joiner with 4.2 seconds left. Joiner, who at that point had hit 17 consecutive free throws, hit his first before missing his second – his first miss from the charity stripe since Dec. 4 vs. No. 18 Memphis. However, the Rebels caught a break as a review deemed the ball went off of a Samford defender, giving Ole Miss the ball back with 3.4 seconds to go on their end of the court down 75-73.
Ruffin found Brakefield in the corner for a last-second attempt that went in as the buzzer went off. The shot was originally called a two, which would have tied the game and sent it to overtime, but after review the shot was deemed no good as it hadn’t left Brakefield’s hands before the buzzer sounded.
Ruffin ended the day as the Rebels’ top scorer at 17 points and career-highs in assists (five) and steals (three). Since returning from injury vs. Middle Tennessee on Dec. 15, Ruffin is averaging 16.0 points per game. For Joiner, this is his 11th double-digit outing in 12 tries this season, and he has hit 24 of his last 26 from the free throw line. Rodriguez ended with 13 points, his first double-digit game since Nov. 26 vs. Mississippi Valley State, and a career-high three trifectas to lead the Rebels beyond the arc.
“We haven’t played our best basketball yet. We have a couple of tough losses to some good teams, but our best basketball play is in front of us,” Joiner said. “We‘re going to come in and work after the break. You should get our best basketball play in the SEC.”
Ole Miss will now have a brief break for the holiday season, returning to action for their SEC opener against the Florida Gators on Wednesday, Dec. 29 at SJB Pavilion.
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