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Ole Miss hoops drops tight game at Missouri

Another game coming down to the wire went against the Ole Miss men’s basketball team Tuesday night, as Missouri protected its home court with a 71-68 victory.

The Rebels (13-13, 4-9 SEC) rallied from a 10-point second half deficit, but clutch free-throw shooting lifted the Tigers (13-13, 5-8 SEC) to the win.

Breein Tyree, the SEC’s leading scorer in conference play, continued his production with 29 points. The game was a battle between two guards as Missouri’s Xavier Pinson scored 32 points, including going 10 of 11 from the line. Khadim Sy added 14 points and seven rebounds, shooting a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor and 3 of 3 from the line. KJ Buffen pulled down a team-high eight boards to go along with 13 points.

Missouri made 23 of 27 (85.2 percent) from the line, while pulling down 15 offensive rebounds that led to 12 points. Once again, the Rebels defended the long ball well by holding the Tigers to 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) from behind the arc.

Pinson gave his team the early advantage, scoring Missouri’s first seven points. Cold shooting and turnovers allowed the Tigers to keep the lead before the Rebels made a run. Sammy Hunter started things, working hard down low for a deuce in his first game back from injury. Back-to-back buckets by Tyree gave Ole Miss its first lead of the game, and a KJ Buffen free throw completed a 7-0 run to put the Rebels up 19-17.

With the game tied at 21-21, the Tigers scored six straight points. Despite the Rebels keeping the opposition without a field goal for the final 4:26 of the first half, Missouri maintained the lead by knocking down free throws. Going a perfect 8 for 8 from the charity stripe over the last four minutes, the Tigers held a four-point lead at the break, 31-27.

Along with free throws, second chance points proved to be a big factor into Missouri’s halftime lead. The Tigers brought down 12 offensive boards in the opening 20 minutes to hold a 10-0 advantage in second chance points. Tyree kept the Rebels within striking distance with 15 first half points.

Ole Miss scored the first five points of the second half to take the lead. After a Buffen jumper, Tyree and Sy executed a perfect pick-and-roll. The junior forward got the bucket and the foul, converting the three-point play to break the tie. However, Pinson went off by making his next four baskets, two of them from beyond the arc, to flip the game back in favor of Missouri. Scoring 11 points during the span, Pinson put the Tigers up 44-38.

Missouri increased the margin to double digits, 55-45, before Ole Miss went on a 10-0 run to tie the game. Tyree drilled a three before adding two free throws. Sy followed with a baseline jumper, and another Tyree three knotted things up. After Missouri split a pair at the stripe, Buffen converted in the post to flip a one-point deficit into a one-point lead, 57-56, with 8:17 left.

With the game tied at 63-63, Pinson knocked down two free throws to put the Tigers up two with 59 seconds left. After an Ole Miss turnover on the other end of the court, Pinson made another pair before a Sy three made it a one-point game with 35 seconds to go. Both teams alternated free throws before Missouri made two more. A Tyree three with the second waning down couldn’t fall, and the Rebels suffered another close loss.

Following back-to-back road games, the Rebels return home to begin consecutive games against teams from the state of Alabama. First, the Crimson Tide roll into Oxford for a Saturday night matchup (Feb. 22). Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

Via Adam Kuffner | Ole Miss Athletics