Ole Miss men’s basketball falls to Creighton in Paradise Jam final

Published 9:46 pm Monday, November 21, 2016

Ole Miss’ men’s basketball team went blow for blow with the nation’s 12th-ranked team Monday in the Paradise Jam championship game, but a late scoring drought doomed the Rebels in an 86-77 loss to Creighton in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Rebels (4-1) led by as many as 11 in the first half and stayed in front until Toby Hegner’s 3-pointer put Creighton ahead 70-68 with 8:41 left. Ole Miss drew even at 74 on Cullen Neal’s jumper with 5:46 remaining, but the Rebels didn’t make a basket the rest of the way.

Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks led Ole Miss with 22 points apiece while Neal had 10 points. A night after setting a career high with 26 points against St. Joseph’s, Sebastian Saiz pulled down 14 rebounds but finished with just four points on 1 of 4 shooting with the Bluejays (5-0) constantly doubling the senior forward.

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Creighton’s Marcus Foster led all scorers with 25 points. Khyri Thomas (16), Hegner (12) and Justin Patton (11) also finished in double figures for the Bluejays, who jumped 10 spots to No. 12 in the Associated Press top 25 released Monday.

Ole Miss held the nation’s 12th-highest scoring team that went for more than 100 in each of its first two tournament games to its second-lowest output of the season and finished plus-10 in rebounding to score 20 second-chance points, but Creighton caught fire from long range. The Bluejays went 16 of 26 from beyond the 3-point line with nine of them coming in the second half.

Ole Miss rode the hot hand of Brooks, who had 16 of his points on 6 of 9 shooting in the first half, to a 46-40 lead at the break. The Rebels led by as many as 10 early in the second half before Creighton later used a 19-9 run capped by Hegner’s 3 to take the lead.

The Rebels shot 44.4 percent (28 of 63) from the floor and made just two of their final 10 3-pointers.

Ole Miss will be back in action Thursday for a Thanksgiving matinee against Montana at the Pavilion at Ole Miss. Tip is set for 3 p.m.