Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis gave his daughter, Ally Davis, a thoughtful 33rd birthday gift: a near flawless win at The Pavilion Tuesday. The Rebels (5-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season with a well-rounded and dominant 90-43 win over the UT Martin Skyhawks in the third annual Christmas Vacation game.
“I was proud of our team today. After a disappointing loss, out team handled it maturely. We guarded well. The ball moved, and we played good in transition,” Davis said.
KJ Buffen and Jarkel Joiner led the way for the Rebels, scoring 16 points apiece. Buffen had 12 of those points coming in the first half while Joiner had 12 second half in his breakout performance in a Rebel uniform. Matthew Murrell also had his best game as a Rebel, with a career-high 13 points coming from the freshman, while Austin Crowley added 11 to match his best. Luis Rodriguez had a team-high nine boards to go along with his five points, while Devontae Shuler dished out eight assists with just one turnover.
As a team, the Rebels shot a season-high 59 percent (35 of 59) from the floor while forcing 20 turnovers and 26 points coming off of them. They had a season-high nine made threes and shot 41 percent (9 of 22) from beyond the arc.
The Skyhawks were dominated on the glass 45-21 and outdone 40-14 in the paint, shooting 30 percent as a team against a tough Rebel defense. The Ole Miss bench outscored UT Martin by themselves, 47-43. From the opening tip, the Rebels played one of their best games of the 2020-2021 season.
Just like last week, Ole Miss would come out of the tunnel rolling. After a quick 5-0 start from the Rebels, UT Martin’s Ajani Kennedy countered with five points himself. The Rebels countered with a 19-2 through five minutes of play. Buffen had eight points going into the second media timeout, including his second three-pointer of the season. Ole Miss opened up a 24-7 lead with 11:23 left in the first half. The onslaught would continue to the end of the half. The Rebels made eight of their last nine shots and scored a season high for points in a 47-19 halftime lead, the third time Ole Miss has held opponents under 20 points going into the locker room.
Buffen already found double figures in the first half for the third consecutive games. The Gainesville, Georgia, native had 12 points, while Romello White and Austin Crowley had eight points apiece coming off the bench. Ole Miss shot a season-high 62 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, while forcing UTM to 25 percent.
The Rebels came out of the locker room and continued their dominance, starting with an easy lay-in for White, followed by an electrifying alley-oop dunk from Shuler to Joiner. Ole Miss followed that up going on an 11-0 run to lead 63-21. Very few things would go wrong from that point on, and Ole Miss wrapped up its fifth victory of the season.
After playing six games in 13 days to start its season, Ole Miss gets a week off for the holidays. When the Rebels return to the court (Dec. 29), they’ll be starting conference play. Ole Miss begins SEC action on the road, traveling to Alabama to battle the Crimson Tide.