OXFORD – Ole Miss lost heart broken at No. 7 Tennessee Wednesday, 73-71.
With 71-68 seconds, the Volunteers scored the last five points of the match. They took the lead behind Grant Williams with 4.3 seconds to go.
Devontae Shuler, of Ole Miss, was called for an accusation about 25 feet from the cart with a second left.
Kermit Davis was whistled for technical foul, putting Williams in play. He released one of two free throws and Ole Miss never had another shot.
Tennessee improved to 25-3 overall and 13-2 at the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss dropped to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in the league.
Here are 10 observations of the near-collapse of the rebels against the volunteers:
1. Above all, Ole Miss looked like an NCAA tournament team on Wednesday night. Tennessee is fighting for a SEC title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Flights lost in overtime to Gonzaga and LSU and Kentucky. He is a legitimate national title contender and Ole Miss was one after the other. Period. As Kermit Davis said, there is still work to be done for the Rebels, but in case of internal doubt about the potential of this team, it was erased Wednesday night. Again, there is no moral victory in men's basketball, but Ole Miss now knows, without a shadow of a doubt, how good it can be.
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes added what he said later. No one will want to face Ole Miss in the NCAA tournament. Here is this quote from Barnes.
3. Ole Miss flirted with the free throw disaster on Saturday. He was eclipsed by the kneeling stories and the fact that the Rebels held up for a point gain, but Breein Tyree missed one before a goal and one in the last second, which gave Georgia a chance to match. winner. The last shot of the Bulldogs was missed, so it was not expensive. On Wednesday, Tyree missed the start of a one-on-one with 18 seconds. Admiral Schofield got the rebound and Tennessee forced Tyree and the Rebels to pay at the other end with Williams' winning goal. Miss Ole had 14 points out of 15 in the free throw line, but wow, the one who was injured.
4. OK, the elephant in the room needs to be addressed. Here:
SEC officials are bad. It's so bad that you have to do something about it. That said, and I know that it will not be popular, I did not think it had decided Wednesday's game. Now, Tennessee is a super aggressive team, and the Volunteers had to make a foul three times at the last minute, just to put Ole Miss in the bonus. It's a joke.
However, I have spoken to people who are rather objective, know basketball well, and have mixed feelings about the winner of Williams' match. One of them said that it seemed that Williams had gone astray, but he said it was "unsure" as to whether he was traveling. Another said Williams had jumped on his head, but he noted that Williams' signature and that he was never called.
"The SEC's year-round player is not called for that over there," he said.
Schofield, like everyone else, including Barnes, should not have put himself in a position to force a blocking / accusation call in the last seconds, but everyone I talked to said it was definitely a charge. Kermit Davis conceded as much afterwards. Ole Miss should have one last possession with about 0.5 or 0.6 seconds at the end. I do not know why it did not happen, but the Rebels would have been dependent on a miracle.
Tennessee shot 16 free throws. Ole Miss shot 15 and it would have been 16 if Tyree had taken the lead. Bad officials are not equivalent to faked officials.
5. Ole Miss tied Tennessee in rebounds, 32-32. Ole Miss made only 10 turnovers, one more than the nine volunteers. Ole Miss was 9-in-23 from the 3-point line. Tennessee was just 3-in-13. All the metrics the Rebels needed followed their path. They are just short.
Terence Davis was brilliant. He really was. In 37 minutes, Davis scored 16 points, getting three rebounds and three assists. He played a nice defense. Hell, his defense on Jordan Bowden's jumper, with 20 seconds left to reduce Ole Miss's lead to 71-70, was perfect. Bowden has just made a big bucket.
7. Bruce Stevens was great. In 31 minutes, Stevens had 10 points and 10 rebounds. He added three assists. He missed all three of his 3 points, but he played his tail against Williams. The match was too sporty for Dominik Olejniczak, who scored two points and blocked a shot in nine minutes. Stevens must be this guy for Ole Miss. When it does, the Rebels are a potential killer in the NCAA tournament. It's as simple as that.
8. I thought Ole Miss's rookies, KJ Buffen and Blake Hinson, were simply superb in the biggest game of their young career. Hinson scored 14 points and caught three rebounds in 21 minutes of stride. Buffen scored five points and four rebounds before collapsing in 22 minutes. Their future is so promising.
9. Ole Miss's pavilion was boiling. It was an incredible atmosphere. Congratulations to everyone involved. It was a fun game to cover.
9b. If you watched the video from the post-match press conference (linked at the top of this content item), you raised many questions about kneeling before the Saturday match in Georgia. Here's the deal: The Ringer, the New York Times and ESPN (and maybe others) sent reporters to Oxford this week. They were working on stories. They asked a lot of questions, as did David Brandt of the Associated Press (almost certainly by order of New York). They thought that there was a big story. There is not one. As we and others reported on Saturday, this kneeling was a reaction to the neo-Confederate rally at Oxford and Ole Miss the same day. It seems that Shuler was the leader of the ring, if you will, but Ole Miss has 100% backed the players' actions. Nothing happened before Wednesday's match. Nothing will happen on Tuesday when the Rebels welcome Kentucky. Nevertheless, welcome to modern journalism.
10. Ole Miss plays Arkansas Saturday at noon. I will be there and we will have full coverage on RebelGrove.com. The rebels must win. If they do, they can relax a bit before the last week of the season. If they lose, things get complicated. Ole Miss probably needs another win to feel good before heading to Nashville for the SEC tournament next month. The Razorbacks, who lost to Oxford in January, gave Kentucky all they wanted Tuesday night before losing (on a controversial call, nothing less). It is hard to believe that there is much left in the collective Hogs tank.