Oxford proves they can hang with the best in narrow loss to Starkville

Published 3:45 pm Saturday, January 28, 2023

Oxford basketball is peaking at the right time.

The Chargers (14-12, 2-4 Region 1-6A) don’t have a particularly impressive record, and they’re just 2-5 in their last seven games, but a narrow 68-62 loss at the hands of No. 2 Starkville on Friday gave them confidence that they can make a deep postseason run and possibly even make it back to Jackson for the first time since 2019.

Oxford fell behind by double digits in the first half of the defeat, but roared back late in the third quarter as they went on a 16-6 run to shrink the deficit down to eight heading into the final period.

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They continued to narrow the gap in the fourth, cutting the Yellowjackets’ lead to three on a deep three in transition by junior Miles Luber.

Their late comeback attempt ultimately fell short however as they struggled to make shots from the field in the final minute while Starkville sunk shot after shot from the charity stripe to keep them at bay.

“We got away from what our strategy was,” said head coach Drew Tyler. “We felt like our best defense was long possessions on offense and we had that early, and we were scoring, so things were definitely clicking for us and then we had some ill-advised, quick shots in transition that led to easy chip shots at the goal for them.”

While they weren’t able to complete the comeback, the game served as an important measuring stick for a Chargers squad that lost to the Yellowjackets by 36 just a few weeks ago.

Their record is largely a product of the remarkably difficult non-region schedule that featured tournaments in Atlanta; Florence, Alabama and Jefferson City, Missouri.

They are 14-6 against in-state opponents, with four of their six losses coming at the hands of powerhouses Starkville and Tupelo.

They may not be one of the most talented teams in the state, but the Chargers can be one of the most difficult to defend if the shots are falling from the perimeter and defenses are forced to press out on shooters rather than help on D.J. Davis and Adam Tyson.

Oxford hosts Coffeeville on Tuesday in their final regular-season contest of the year before traveling to Starkville for the Region 1-6A tournament starting on Feb. 7.