Steals and Free Throw Shooting Propel Rebels Past Aggies

OXFORD, Miss. -- Taking advantage of steals and converting at the free throw line, the Ole Miss men's basketball team got back on the winning track with a 75-71 victory over Texas A&M Wednesday night at The Pavilion. The Rebels (15-7, 5-4 SEC) recorded 14 steals and produced 31 points off turnovers, while shooting 94.7 percent (18 of 19) from the charity stripe, to rally from a nine-point second half deficit and earn a hard-fought win.

Ole Miss knocked down 17 of 18 free throw attempts in the second half behind the duo of Terence Davis and Breein Tyree. Davis made all six of his free throws, while Tyree sank all five of his own. The pair of Rebels combined for 41 of the team's 75 points with Tyree's 22 leading the way. Davis was a stat stuffer throughout the night, scoring 19 points with team highs in rebounds (8), steals (7) and assists (5). His seven steals were a career-high and the most by a Rebel in two seasons.

Blake Hinson added 11 points and a pair of steals, while Devontae Shuler tallied at least three steals for the fourth consecutive game. Dominik Olejniczak scored six points that including a crucial pair of free throws late as well as a big-time block with 1:05 remaining in the game.

Entering the game shooting 29.5 percent as a team from beyond the arc, the Aggies (8-13, 1-8 SEC) went 11 of 23 (47.8 percent) during the contest to produce a second half lead and give Ole Miss a scare. Wendell Mitchell scored a game-high 23 points, and Brandon Mahan added 20 points off the bench. Mahan was Texas A&M's hottest shooter from long range, making six of his seven triple tries.

The Rebels began the game on fire, racing out to a 19-6 lead by making eight of their first nine shots. On the other side of the floor, Ole Miss forced Texas A&M into six turnovers in the first seven minutes. However, a five-minute scoring drought cooled off the Rebels and allowed the Aggies to go on a 7-0 run to get back within six.

Ole Miss countered with six straight points to push the advantage back to 12, doubling up the Aggies. The lead grew to 13 before a 14-2 Texas A&M run made it a one-point game. Despite the visitors making their final eight shots of the half, the Rebels went into the break ahead 37-36.

Both teams shot over 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes. Ole Miss went 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) from the floor, while Texas A&M's hot shooting at the end of the half helped towards a 51.7 percent (15 of 29) clip. The Rebels turned 11 Texas A&M turnovers into 18 points, and each team recorded eight steals in the half.

After a Hinson three to start the second half, the Aggies went on a 9-0 run to take their first lead of the game, 45-40. A Tyree long ball tied the game at 48-48 before another 9-0 run pushed Texas A&M back in front thanks to making seven straight shot attempts.

With the Rebels trailing by six with six minutes to go, back-to-back steals by Terence Davis led to five points to cut the margin to one. Following a miss on the other end of the floor, Tyree drained a pair of free throws to give the lead back to Ole Miss, 63-62. Mitchell flipped the script with a bucket for Texas A&M before Hinson knocked down a pair of free throws to give Ole Miss the lead for good. While the Rebels went without a field goal for the final 4:50 of the game, they made all 10 of their free throws down the stretch to remain ahead and lock up a much-need victory at home.

Following back-to-back home games, the Rebels hit the conference trail for a pair of matchups east of Mississippi. First, Ole Miss battles Georgia (Feb. 9) in the first of two games against the Bulldogs over a two-week span. The Saturday afternoon contest is slated for 12 p.m. CT on SEC Network. Then, the Rebels head to Auburn (Feb. 13), looking to sweep the season series. Tipoff with the Tigers is set for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.