Davis rewarded with 4-year deal

 

Kermit Davis

Kermit Davis

 

 

The Associated Press

 

 

OXFORD -- Kermit Davis has earned a new contract after leading Mississippi on a surprising run to the NCAA Tournament. 

 

The school announced on Tuesday that it had agreed in principle to a new deal with Davis that would last four years, which is the longest allowed by state law. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

 

Davis originally signed a four-year contract that paid a base salary of $2.5 million annually when he was hired in 2018. 

 

Ole Miss was picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference this season, but the 59-year-old Davis helped the program far exceed those expectations. The Rebels have a 20-12 record and earned the No. 8 seed in the South Region, where they'll face No. 9 Oklahoma on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina. 

 

Davis was recently named the SEC coach of the year. 

 

Ole Miss also announced it will be joining Oklahoma State, Penn State and Syracuse in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the 2019 NIT Season Tip-Off. 

 

The NIT Season Tip-Off will return to Barclays Center for a fifth straight season during Thanksgiving Week, and Ole Miss will play a pair of games in the home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. 

 

"Obviously, with the prestige of the NIT Season Tip-Off, it's an honor to play in this elite field in New York over the Thanksgiving holiday," said head coach Kermit Davis. "It's one of the best preseason tournaments in college basketball, and I know our players will look forward to it."  

 

FIRST NCAA WIN FOR BELMONT: A few seconds were still left on the clock when Fran Dunphy headed to midcourt for his final postgame handshake, the outcome long decided. Belmont was simply too much for his Owls. 

 

Nobody else in the NCAA Tournament is excited to face their efficient offense, either. 

 

Kevin McClain scored 29 points and led the decisive second-half run as Belmont got its first NCAA Tournament win, pulling away to an 81-70 victory Tuesday night and ending Dunphy's career in the First Four. 

 

The 11th-seeded Bruins (27-5) play Maryland on Thursday in the East Region. 

 

"We belong in this tournament," said McClain, who finished two points shy of his career high. "You can see that." 

 

Belmont got an at-large bid after losing to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title game. The Bruins showed the selection committee's faith was not misplaced, getting the breakthrough win on their eighth try. 

 

"I think that they can play in this atmosphere and this is important," coach Rick Byrd said. "I didn't think many times we played well, or knew what we were in offensively, but they found a way to win. And you never play perfect, and I think they've got some toughness about them." 

 

The loss sent Temple (23-10) into a transition. Dunphy is retiring after his 13th season at Temple, where he replaced John Chaney. Dunphy previously coached 17 seasons at Penn. 

 

"The game of basketball has given me way more than I have given to it," Dunphy said. 

 

He was hoping to coach another day, but Belmont's high-scoring offense pulled away at the end. Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 21 points. 

 

"That team is smart," Alston said. "They only do what they're good at." 

 

The Bruins entered the tournament second in the nation at 87.4 points per game. The Owls' aim was to slow the high-percentage offense just enough to give themselves a chance. Temple hung in during a first half that featured five lead changes and ended with Belmont ahead 37-31. 

 

ANOTHER FIRST WIN: Eleven months ago, Fairleigh Dickinson coach Greg Herenda was seriously ill with life-threatening blood clots. On Tuesday night, he danced on the court and hugged his players after they secured the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. 

 

Senior guard Darnell Edge scored a career-high 33 points and Jahlil Jenkins had 20 of his 22 points in the second half as the Knights capped a furious comeback by taking down Prairie View A&M 82-76 in a First Four game on Tuesday night. 

 

"It's overwhelming," said Herenda, in his sixth season at the Hackensack, New Jersey, school. "When you coach for 35 years and you take a team to an NCAA Tournament and a team that, when I got here six years ago, we had nothing. And to build it, and then it's here, and it's so sad that every coach can't experience this." 

 

Fairleigh Dickinson (21-13), which got the automatic tournament bid by winning the Northeast Conference Tournament, won its first NCAA tourney game in six tries. The Knights move on to play Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in West Region, on Thursday in Salt Lake City. 

 

Prairie View (22-13), also seeking its first tournament win, built up 13-point leads in both halves, but Fairleigh Dickinson took control in the second half behind the shooting of Edge and Jenkins. 

 

"Jahlil Jenkins has the biggest heart in Ohio right now," Herenda said. "As a sophomore, he took over the game in the second half."

 

 

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