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Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Falls to Florida in OT, 62-57 

The Ole Miss men’s basketball team couldn’t hang on in an overtime heartbreaker on the road, falling to Florida, 62-57, at Exectech Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The Rebels (12-11, 3-7 SEC) claimed their first halftime lead in Gainesville since 1999 thanks to a strong start in the paint via nine first half offensive rebounds and a plus-13 edge on the glass at the break – the best first-half rebounding margin for Ole Miss against an SEC school since 2015.

However a long drought that ended with a season-low 18 points in the second half and strong play from Gator star Colin Castleton in his first game back from injury was enough for Florida (15-8, 5-5 SEC) to come away with the overtime victory over the Rebels 62-57.

“Give Florida credit, it was a hard-fought game,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “Both teams guarded really well. Florida was a physical team. I’m really proud of our team. That was a tough loss. We win that game, then we’re tied with Florida and really think we get ourselves back in the middle of some postseason conversations. We’ll bounce back and take tomorrow off, get back to Oxford and prepare like heck for Alabama.”

After a back-and-forth opening 8:04 of play, the Rebels saw a quick flurry of three-point baskets, which aided an 11-0 Ole Miss run from 11:39 to 8:19. The run also included a baseline bucket from senior Jarkel Joiner, his first field goal for the Rebels since the team’s loss to Samford on December 21. Joiner had missed nearly a full month of action due to a lower back injury.

The Gators clawed back into the game behind the paint presence of Colin Castleton, cutting the deficit to one point with 4:54 left to play in half. However, the Rebels finished the half on yet another scoring run, closing the opening frame with a 9-1 run to hold a 30-21 lead at the break.

To open the second half, the Rebels struggled to find the offense they had in the first, scoring just one point in the first 9:01 of play while allowing a 12-1 Gator run that put Florida ahead 32-31. The first Rebel field goal of the half wouldn’t come until the 9:45mark of the second, but the Ole Miss defense held strong, keeping Florida within reach as regulation ticked down.

Down 48-42 with just 3:36 left to play, the Rebels looked to their upperclassmen to close the gap. With a bucket by Nysier Brooks and a pair of free throws from Luis Rodriguez, the Rebels trailed by one point with less than a minute to play.

With time ticking down on the shot clock, senior Tye Fagan drove into the lane and hit a game-tying floater with 54 seconds to play. Despite each team having an opportunity to jump ahead, regulation closed with the score tied, 48-48, sending the Rebels to overtime for the second time this season.

Center Nysier Brooks helped spark the Rebels early in overtime, slamming home a reverse and-one dunk to tie up the game 50-50. The Gators would hit their stride however, scoring nine unanswered to hold a 59-50 lead with just 41 seconds left on the clock.

The Rebels would not go out quietly, with Matthew Murrell hitting a three followed by a Luis Rodriguez and-one conversion that cut it back down to 59-56 with 14 seconds remaining.

Despite this, it was too little too late for the Rebels as the Gators would convert on free throws that sealed the Florida victory.

The box score proved to be a battle of the big men, with Ole Miss’ Nysier Brooks and Florida’s Colin Caslteton both exchanging blows down the stretch. Brooks’ game would end with him recording 11 points and 9 boards along with a pair of blocks and assists, while Castleton led the way for the Gators, scoring 17 while grabbing seven rebounds and three blocks. Both centers finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field.

Also logging double-digit scoring performances for the Rebels on the night were Tye Fagan (15 points) and Matthew Murrell (14 points). Joiner’s return from injury ended with him tallying seven points and four rebounds off the bench.

After their brief road spell, the Rebels will now return to SJB Pavilion for a matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-8, 4-5 SEC) on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.


Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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