Illness could do little to slow down a motivated Ole Miss men’s basketball team, as the Rebels controlled both sides of the ball in a convincing 85-68 road win at Georgia on Saturday afternoon.
Ole Miss (13-14, 4-10 SEC) was without top scorers Jarkel Joiner and Matthew Murrell due to illness, and fellow starters Nysier Brooks and Luis Rodriguez were also battling through flu-like symptoms all game long. But the Rebels stepped up big time, with Brooks and Rodriguez combining for 16 points and 63 hard-fought minutes played alongside huge outings from Tye Fagan in his return to Athens (20 points, five assists, four steals, two rebounds) along with career days from both Jaemyn Brakefield (19 points, four rebounds, one steal, 4-of-5 3PT) and Austin Crowley (18 points, five assists, three rebounds, two blocks, one steal).
The Rebels ended the day shooting a blazing 55.9 percent from the field on 33-of-59 shooting while recording eight steals and six blocks on the defensive side of the ball, helping to push past a Bulldogs (6-21, 1-13 SEC) team that shot just 37.5 percent in the second half.
“Austin Crowley really ran our team and was great from the point guard spot, that was the best Jaemyn Brakefield has played this year because he confidently made shots, and it was just great for Tye Fagan to come home and have 20 and five tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis. “I’m really proud of our team. It’s a much-needed road win for us. Hopefully, we can get back and get the troops rallied up so everybody’s ready for Auburn.”
Ole Miss’ game opened with the Rebels controlling the tempo early, not allowing the Bulldogs to hold a lead over the opening 13:30 of play. Austin Crowley would contribute to the early Rebel success, scoring 12 first-half points on a 5-of-10 shooting clip. This already marked the most points Crowley had scored for the team since his career-high 13-point performance in Ole Miss’ season-opener against New Orleans.
However, a late run from the Bulldogs gave them a three-point lead on the Rebels with 2:21 left to play, as Georgia’s Braelen Bridges would net 10 first-half points alongside four assists to help the Bulldogs bounce back into the game. But it was a late 7-0 Rebel run, capped off with a Jaemyn Brakefield three-point buzzer-beater that helped the Rebels carry a 42-38 Ole Miss advantage into halftime.
The second half saw the Rebels leverage the hot hands and playmaking of Austin Crowley (18 points, five assists), Tye Fagan (20 points and five assists) and Jaemyn Brakefield (19 points) to slowly build upon the Rebel lead. Ole Miss’ advantage would grow to as many as 20 points, with the Rebels shooting 60 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three in the second half, dominating the offensive side of the ball over the Bulldogs.
The Rebels locked Georgia down in the back half, holding the Bulldogs to just one make field goal in the final 4:35 of play. Tye Fagan, back at Georgia after spending the first three years of his career in Athens, scored a team-high 16 points in the last 20 minutes of play to end with a game-high 20.
“Early-on in the game I had a lot of adrenaline rushing and a lot of thoughts going through my head,” Fagan said. “Just so much went into this game, and giving everything I had here for the longest time, then feeling like I had to move on and coming back here, it was just clouding my head. Eventually I settled in and my team kept us up. They were hooping and just kept us ahead, and eventually in the second half I was able to keep it going and they kept feeding me.”
The game marked career-high scoring performances from Brakefield (19 points) and Crowley (18 points), while a total of five different Rebels tallied five or more assists in the game. The last time the Rebels saw three different players record five or more assists in the same game was in the team’s matchup against Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 21, 2019.
Ole Miss will now remain on the road to battle No. 2 Auburn on Wednesday at Auburn Arena. Tipoff for the ranked matchup is set for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports