OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Andy Kennedy has implored his team to play with an edge, the sense of urgency needed to compete at college basketball’s highest level. That sense was lacking in the Rebels’ 99-97 home loss to South Dakota State that dropped them to 4-2 on the year.
South Dakota State (7-2) punished Ole Miss (4-2) for a lethargic start. The Jackrabbits hit 11 first-half three point shots in 21 attempts that helped them build a 55-35 lead at the break, one that ballooned as high as 23 points at one point in the opening period.
The Rebels’ struggled to defend ball screens, and South Dakota State’s quickness off the dribble opened up perimeter shots for a team that shoots the ball well. Kennedy attributed to nothing schematically, but more so a lack of urgency and effort.
“Our awareness, the urgency of now, I don’t feel it,” Kennedy said. “We tried to warn them that South Dakota State is good. If you let them turn that ball they are going to get open looks and make shots. Wow, they made shots. It made me sound prophetic.”
The scoring was led by South Dakota State’s Mike Daum. The forward poured in 26 points on 9 of 21 shooting. He snared seven rebounds to go along with that and 16 of his points came in the first 20 minutes. His size and ability to shoot in space gave the Rebels trouble as he stretched the floor off of screens.
“Ball screen defense is about one thing and one thing only,” Kennedy said. “It is about winning the point of attack. You are trying to engage the guy guarding the screener into the play. It causes rotations. For us, we knew they are spreading out four shooters and had to be right where we needed to be on defense.”
Ole Miss, conversely, could not buy a basket in the opening half. The team shot 13 of 35 from the field and struggled to get into a rhythm at the end of the floor. It didn’t last. The Rebels came out of the halftime locker room with much more of a sense of that urgency Kennedy has pleaded for. Terence Davis scored 20 second-half points, including the first seven of the half. He helped trim the deficit to 15. Three minutes later it was down to single digits.
Ole Miss was more active at the defensive end of the floor. Devontae Shuler forced turnovers in half-court defense, and the Rebels got easy baskets in transition. The Rebels held the Jackrabbits to 27 second-half points as the team began to chip away at the lead.
“You have a sense of urgency when we are down 20,” Kennedy said. “You are embarrassed. What are you going to do?”
Davis tied the game with a basket and helped the Rebels take a 78-76 lead with 4:37 left thanks to him scoring of 13 of the Rebels’ 18 points during that span. A 23-point lead had been wiped away.
“He’s an unusual player,” Kennedy said. “I like having him on the court because he goes and makes plays.”
Davis led all Rebels with 22 points. Deandre Burnett, Markel Crawford and Shuler each had 19 points.
Ole Miss got a stop on the final possession to force overtime as the game was tied at 82. Both Davis and Daum fouled out in the final minutes of regulation, stripping each team of its best player.
South Dakota State was able to pull it out in overtime without Daum. Ole Miss missed a couple of costly free throws and couldn’t seem to get the critical stop it needed in the extra five minutes. The Jackrabbits out-rebounded the Rebels 44-41, including one on a free throw block-out in overtime that proved to be costly. South Dakota State made crucial shots late in the shot clock. It made more three-point shots than two-point shots in the game, an 18-17 difference. The Jackrabbits were 18 of 41 from three-point range for the game.
“We didn’t get enough stops when we needed them,” Kennedy said. “They did, and that is a credit to them.”
Ole Miss returns to action on Saturday against a solid Virginia Tech team on Saturday.
“You have to play harder,” Kennedy said. “We have to be better. We have to go back to work.”
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The Rebels put out their fourth different starting lineup of the season.
Terence Davis scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half to reach the 20-point plateau for the third time this season.
Three Rebels scored 19 points apiece, including Markel Crawford and Devontae Shuler that record their highest-scoring game in an Ole Miss uniform.
Ole Miss held an 18-0 advantage in fastbreak points.
The contest was only the second overtime game ever played at The Pavilion; the other occurred Jan. 19, 2016 vs. South Carolina.