Rebels rout South Alabama

Published 8:25 am Friday, December 23, 2016

OXFORD (AP) — There was no celebrating Thursday night for the Ole Miss Rebels, despite an impressive 92-58 win over South Alabama, highlighted by Sebastian Saiz’s 23-point, 16-rebound performance.

It was Saiz’s third double-double in a row.

“There were moments we looked like a good team and that was encouraging,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We’re improving and it’s time. The schedule is about to get real very quickly.”

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The Rebels (9-3) host No. 6 Kentucky next Thursday in the SEC opener, followed by consecutive road games at Florida and Auburn. They’re 4-1 in December.

DeAndre Burnett scored 21 points, Justas Furmanavicius had 13, Cullen Neal added 11 and Terence Davis had 10 points to lead Ole Miss (9-3). The Rebels had 23 assists, nine by Neal.

“These games scare you to death as a coach. You know where your kids’ minds are, like all of us when you get close to the holidays. Everybody needs a little bit of a break,” Kennedy said. “We came out with great intensity. We got a lot of different guys minutes, which I thought was important. Defensively, we’re getting better and better. I think we’re improving. It’s time to improve.”

The Rebels shot 29-of-59 (49 percent), including 8-of-22 from 3-point range, and outrebounded South Alabama 50-35.

Nick Stover and Georgi Boyanov led South Alabama (7-6) with 17 and 10 points, respectively. Don MuepoKelly had 10 rebounds.

The Jags trailed 46-26 at halftime and managed only 19-of-66 shooting (29 percent), including 5-of-23 from 3-point range.

“Our defense kept us in it until late in the first half,” said South Alabama coach Matthew Graves, whose club opened 3-of-23 from the field. “There comes a point where you have to score baskets and that came late for us. Our guys will keep fighting.”

The Jags battled to within 61-48 midway through the second half, but Ole Miss ran off 19 straight points over five minutes to erase any doubt.

Burnett and Furmanavicius had strong reserve performances for Ole Miss, along with Rasheed Brooks. Brooks, best known for his shooting skills, had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“Justas really gave us an energy boost,” Kennedy said. “For the first time, he finished plays in traffic and he got on the defensive boards better. We’re going to need that.”

Mississippi State 85, Morehead State 76

Quinndary Weatherspoon had a career-high 27 points to lead Mississippi State past Morehead State.
Weatherspoon had 15 points in the second half as the Bulldogs (8-3) overcame a 10-point halftime deficit.

Weatherspoon also set a career-high with 10 made field goals on 17 attempts from the floor.
I.J. Ready had 19 points for Mississippi State and Aric Holman added 12.

“We just had to come out and play defense in the second half,” Weatherspoon said. “We didn’t play defense in the second half. Coach (Ben) Howland wanted our defense to lead to our offense in the second half. I think our defense is what got us going. We needed some 3s but the defense definitely got us going. When we took the lead it got our confidence back and it made us go harder on defense.”

Xavier Moon led Morehead State with 22 points, while Lamontray Harris had 20 points and Jordan Walker 10. Morehead State shot 57 percent in the first half.

San Diego State 66, Southern Miss 51

Zylan Cheatham had 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds to lead San Diego State over Southern Miss Thursday night in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic.

Cheatham was 4-of-6 from the floor and made 8 of 9 free throws. Trey Kell added 11 points and five assists for the Aztecs (6-4), who have won two straight since snapping a three-game skid.

Raheem Watts had 14 points and Cortez Edwards added 13 for Southern Miss (3-7), which shot just 33 percent (19-of-57) from the field.
Southern Miss fell into the tournament’s consolation bracket and will play Stephen F. Austin on Friday at 6 p.m.

Alcorn 83, Rust 68

A.J. Mosby and Reginal Johnson each had double-doubles, Avery Patterson hit three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points and a career-best six assists and Alcorn State beat NAIA Rust College.
Mosby hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range and had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Johnson scored 19 with a career-high 12 boards. Mosby’s rebound and assist totals were career bests.

Yalen Reed and Rahamanh Katumbusi had 11 points apiece and Marquis Vance grabbed 14 rebounds.

Former Vicksburg High star Dominique Brown scored 23 points, including five 3s, for Rust. Brown also had seven rebounds.

Another former Gator, Romeo Carter, had eight points and seven assists.

Drake 101, Mississippi Valley State 69

Billy Wampler hit eight 3-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points and Drake snapped an eight game losing streak with a win over Mississippi Valley State.

Wampler’s eight 3s were the second most in school history for a single game, one shy of the school record. It was the first time the Bulldogs topped the 100-point barrier since 2013.

Rashaan Surles had 21 points to lead Mississippi Valley State (0-13), which has been on the road the entire month of December and hasn’t played at home since a Nov. 22 tilt with UMass-Lowell.