By Adam Brown
Ole Miss dropped a heartbreaker to the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers 66-60 in overtime on Rocky Top Wednesday night.
“Give Tennessee credit,” coach Kermit Davis said. “It was very physical and both teams only shot eight free throws. Our team just had a great opportunity to win the game.”
Ole Miss (8-5, 0-1 SEC) came into Knoxville only with 10 players, nine of whom were scholarships. Jarkel Joiner didn’t make the trip due to a lower back injury.
“Jarkel is a huge part of our team,” Davis said. “We missed him on the trip.”
Ole Miss’ largest lead was by 12 points (16-4) in the first half.
The Rebels were led on the court by Tye Fagan with a season-high 23 points. His teammate Matthew Murrell finished with 17 points and 4-for-6 from three.
“Tye Fagan was terrific,” Davis said.
Fagan went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“This game was good for me,” Fagan said. “It’s a confidence booster from the simple fact that I am always in the gym getting shoots up. Tonight the three fell. My teammates kept finding me with the ball.”
Ole Miss shot 50 percent from downtown on the night going 11-for-22.
Tennessee fought back and forced the Rebels to turn the ball over 27 times in the contest.
“They are a great team,” Fagan said. “They gave us some full-court pressure and did everything they could to get us down. Out of the 27 turnovers, it was just simple turnovers that just hurt us ourselves.”
In the last five minutes of regulation, the Rebels were up 48-41 over the Vols. However, Tennessee was able to get back in the game.
“Live ball turnovers,” Davis said.
Ole Miss made it difficult on Tennessee from beyond the arc as they finished the night 10-for-34.
Tennessee was led by Santiago Vescovi with 17 points.
Ole Miss returns to the court on Saturday against in-state rival Mississippi State at home in the SJB Pavilion. The tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network.