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Rebels force turnovers to tame Tigers


From Special Reports



OXFORD -- Converting 25 turnovers into 32 points on the other end of the floor, the Ole Miss men's basketball team won its fourth straight game with a 75-65 victory over Missouri Saturday afternoon at The Pavilion. The Rebels (18-7, 8-4 SEC) tallied 13 steals in the defensive effort, including a career-high five by sophomore Devontae Shuler. 


Ole Miss was led in scoring by a pair of Rebels coming off the bench. Senior forward Bruce Stevens scored a team-high 17 points, matching his season best, to go along with a trio of three-pointers. Freshman KJ Buffen added 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting with career highs in assists (4) and steals (3) through 32 minutes on the floor. 


The Rebels knocked down their free throws, a common theme throughout the season, going 20 of 23 (87.0 percent) from the stripe. Breein Tyree went to the line the most, making six of his eight attempts as part of his 14-point afternoon. Shuler added 12 points as the fourth Rebel to reach double figures. 


The Rebels began the game right where they left off from the win at Auburn, clamping down on defense. Dominik Olejniczak defended the rim with a pair of blocks 35 seconds into the contest. Ole Miss jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, forcing Missouri to miss seven of its first eight shots. 


Missouri clashed the offensive glass, and after a second-chance three cut the margin to four, 19-15, head coach Kermit Davis called timeout to talk things over. After Olejniczak knocked down a pair of free throws coming out of the break, Terence Davis and Buffen drilled back-to-back threes. Ole Miss' answer with an 8-0 run increased the lead to a dozen, 27-15. 


Ole Miss remained ahead to take a 35-26 lead into the locker room, limiting Mizzou to a 33.3 percent clip (8 of 24) from the field and forcing 15 turnovers. Buffen led the way with nine points by making all three of his shots and a pair of free throws. He also dished out four assists in the opening 20 minutes to set a new career high for an entire game. 


The Rebels wasted no time pushing the contest back to double digits to start the second half. A 12-2 run courtesy of four Rebels finding the bottom of the net made it a 47-28 game. Missouri countered with a 15-5 run to get back to its halftime deficit, 52-43, with 10:21 to go. 


Following a week against the Tigers of Auburn and Missouri, Ole Miss heads east for its third road contest in a four-game stretch. The Rebels will face South Carolina (Feb. 19) in a matchup that could have a major factor in SEC Tournament seeding. At 8-4 in the SEC, Ole Miss is now tied with the Gamecocks for fourth in the conference standings. The top four teams earn a double bye into the quarterfinals of the tournament. Tipoff from Columbia is slated for 6 p.m. on SEC Network.



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