Rebel offense stagnant in drubbing at No. 22 LSU

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, February 1, 2020

Falling down as many as 24 points in the first half on the road against No. 22 LSU, Ole Miss basketball’s comeback bid never truly came to fruition.

In the end, the Rebels dropped their fourth straight game in Baton Rouge on Saturday 73-63.

Rebel junior Devontae Shuler got hot early on the road, scoring the team’s first nine points and giving Ole Miss an early lead. The issue came in that no other Rebel could find their footing early. After Ole Miss built up that early 9-7 lead behind Shuler’s scoring, LSU went on a 25-2 run over a 10-minute stretch of game time. By halftime, they trailed LSU 40-20. Shuler scored 11 points in the half; all other Ole Miss starters shot 1 for 13.

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Despite all the first-half struggles and the ugly halftime deficit, the Rebels weren’t done. Ole Miss opened the second half on a 12-0 run, part of which included a very positive sign for Ole Miss with the first basket of the game from Breein Tyree. Passive and relatively absent in the first half, head coach Kermit Davis had sat Tyree down on the bench for the latter part of the first half. Tyree clearly took the message to heart, coming out and being much more aggressive driving towards the basket as the second half opened.

The 12-point Ole Miss run to open the half cut LSU’s lead to 40-32, incredibly reasonable striking distance for a team that seemed dead in the water the majority of the first half. After Ole Miss had again cut the Tigers lead to single digits with 12:50 to play, a cheeky inbounds play followed up by an LSU three-pointer again expanded the lead, sparking a 21-11 run of their own to reopen their 20-point lead. Tyree, Shuler and the Rebels battled, and the final score looks closer than play really ever was, with Ole Miss falling 73-63.

Devontae Shuler has struggled tremendously at the start of this year. His last two games have been so much different, so much better. Saturday afternoon against LSU, Shuler singlehandedly carried the Rebel offense in the first half, outscoring the entire rest of the team combined. In the end, he finished with 28 points (a career high) after scoring 26 points on Tuesday against No. 17 Auburn.

With the loss, Ole Miss falls to 10-11 (1-7 in the SEC). It’s the first time since Kermit Davis took over the Rebel program at the start of last year that Ole Miss is below .500. The Rebels get a shot to get back to even on Wednesday against South Carolina.