OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) – For the second time in three days, offensive success wasn't always easy to come by going up against the Ole Miss men's basketball team. The Rebels (2-0) put in another valiant and dominant defensive effort to defeat UNCW 78-58, continuing their three-game homestand at The Pavilion on Saturday.
"I was proud of our win, rebounding the ball," Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said. "(Romello White) was active on the boards and we took advantage of mismatches. I think we have a chance to be an elite defensive team before the year runs out."
Ole Miss crashed the boards all night long with a whopping 40-26 rebound advantage and outscored the Seahawks in the paint 50-20. The Rebels also shot 51.7 percent (30 of 58) from the floor and had three players score double figures for the first time this season.
It was once again White and Devontae Shuler leading the charge for the Rebels. White finished with a game-high 20, while Shuler added 18. White, the graduate transfer from Arizona State, could not be denied in the post and made seven of his eight shot attempts. Luis Rodriguez had Ole Miss' first double-double of the season, and the first of his career, with 14 points and 13 rebounds (career highs). KJ Buffen, Austin Crowley and Jarkel Joiner finished with six points apiece.
Four minutes into Saturday's contest, shots were not falling on either side with all six combined points coming from the paint. Going into the game's first media timeout, the lead changed three times before Ole Miss had a 12-9 lead. Both teams went for a combined 9 for 30 from the floor while the Rebels had a 15-6 advantage on the boards, including nine offensive rebounds. Seven different Rebels scored the team's first 14 points of the game..
Ole Miss rattled off a 10-0 run coming out of the timeout, the biggest lead of the game for the time being. White was main catalyst behind that stretch dominating the paint. To conclude the first half, the Seahawks failed to make six of their last eight field goals. Meanwhile, the Rebels made five of their last six shots, using used an 11-2 run to go into the half up 38-18.
The Rebels had White leading the way with 13 points. Defensively, they held UNCW's Jaylen Sims, who came in averaging 27 points a game, scoreless in the first half.
As the Seahawks bordered on foul trouble to begin the second half, Ole Miss took advantage, going on an 8-0 run and forcing a timeout from UNCW three minutes in. The lead would only widen later on, as high as 26 points nearing the halfway point of the second half. UNCW began to catch fire from the field and beyond the arc to try and get the game within reach, but Ole Miss kept pace the rest of the way.
The Rebels will continue the start to their season that includes a game every other day. The three-game homestand wraps up Monday night (Dec. 14) by hosting Central Arkansas. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network.