basketball Edit

McCready: 10 observations from Ole Miss 80, Georgia 64

Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree drives past Georgia Nicolas Claxton during the first half of the Rebels' 80-64 win over the Bulldogs Saturday in Oxford. Tyree scored a game-high 31 points in the win. (USA Today Sports)

Ole Miss improved to 16-7 overall and 6-4 in the Southeastern Conference with a convincing 80-64 win at Georgia.

Here are 10 observations from the Rebels’ win in Athens.

1. Breein Tyree is emerging as a bonafide star. Tyree went over the 1,000-point mark in his career Saturday, but more importantly, he scored 31 points in a critical SEC road game. Tyree was 11-for-22 from the floor and scored every time Ole Miss needed a big bucket.

“Breein has been terrific,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “He’s been playing as good as any guard in the SEC. He did everything today.”

Tyree's speed gave Georgia fits all afternoon.

"It benefits us," Tyree said, referring to the Rebels' backcourt speed and quickness. "Coach emphasizes cutting hard and great spacing. The ball was falling for me tonight. I took a few too many shots for my preference, but I'll take it."

2. Bruce Stevens, much maligned in recent games, played a critical role Saturday. Dominik Olejniczak struggled athletically against Georgia’s bigs, so Stevens came in and scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds while adding an assist and two steals. Ole Miss desperately needed an answer on the blocks and Stevens provided it.

3. Olejniczak finished with just two points, one rebound and one block, but he stepped up and gave some good minutes in the second half. His screen-setting in the second half helped create some open paths to the basket for the Rebels’ guards.

4. Ole Miss’ freshmen, KJ Buffen and Blake Hinson, made some big shots and provided some big hustle moments. The duo combined to really influence a win. Hinton was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line and finished with 13 points and two rebounds. Buffen had four points and four boards.

5. Devontae Shuler looked healthier Saturday than he has in weeks. Shuler had eight points, seven rebounds and one assist against Georgia.

“We got tougher on the ball,” Davis said. “Devontae is getting healthier.”

6. Ole Miss is leading the SEC in free throw shooting percentage, and the Rebels were money from the line again Saturday, hitting 15 of 19 against the Bulldogs.

7. Big credit goes to Kermit Davis and his team. The Rebels were down 10 points early. They didn’t panic. Instead, they picked up the intensity on the defensive end, ran offense and quickly took control of the game.

“We were kind of flat-footed,” Davis said. “We were down 18-8, but from that point on, it was probably the best we’ve played since (a Jan. 12 win at) Mississippi State.”

8. If you’ve never been in media covering a team you’re associated with, either as a past student or as a former employee, you don’t understand how awkward it can be to cover a program tied to that school. I thought Richard Cross did a really strong job on the play-by-play call on the SEC Network and former Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy was a total pro serving as a studio analyst during and after the game, including asking questions of Davis in the post-game interview.

9. Georgia’s white throwback uniforms were straight fire. The Bulldogs should wear those more often. They were clean and sharp.

10. Ole Miss plays at Auburn on Wednesday. The Tigers are tough at Auburn Arena, so the Rebels will have their hands full. Ole Miss won against Auburn on Jan. 9 in Oxford. A season sweep of Bruce Pearl’s team would be absolutely huge for the Rebels’ NCAA Tournament hopes. Thanks to taking care of Texas A&M and Georgia this week, it’s a free shot for the Rebels on the Plains.

"We just have to stay true to our identity, practice hard and do what we do," Tyree said, admitting that he does think about how close the Rebels are to putting themselves in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's been a dream of mine since childhood," Tyree said. "I think about it every day."