OXFORD • For Breein Tyree, it was a beaut that would have made Cousin Eddie proud.
As 7,334 Ole Miss fans enjoyed a “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”-themed game – and free Cousin Eddie hats to the first 500 arrivals – Tyree poured in a career-high 34 points on Saturday to lead the Rebels to an 82-64 win over Middle Tennessee at The Pavilion.
Tyree scored 25 points in the first half as he went 7 for 8 from 3-point range with makes on his first six attempts for the Rebels.
The first half alone was enough to surpass his previous career-high of 3-point makes which was five.
The senior from Somerset, New Jersey, finished 8 for 11 behind the line, hitting the 34-point mark when his 3-pointer from the corner opposite the Ole Miss bench gave the Rebels (7-3) a 72-49 lead with 8 minutes, 8 seconds remaining.
He left the game with 1:54 left.
“All week I’ve been shooting like that, not only shooting, I think I guarded pretty well too and got my teammates involved,” said Tyree who also had five rebounds and four assists.
Tyree’s performance was a nice birthday gift for Rebels coach Kermit Davis, who turned 60 on Saturday as he improved to 2-0 against the Middle Tennessee program that he coached for 16 years.
Tyree grabbed the microphone at the end of the game and began to sing “Happy Birthday” to Davis.
Middle Tennessee (4-7) is 15-28 since Davis took the job at Ole Miss.
The Blue Raiders were led by 6-foot-5 junior guard C.J. Jones with 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting. He was 3 for 7 behind the arc.
Former Tupelo High standout Antonio Green, who was averaging 15.7 points on the season, struggled and finished with four points on 2 for 9 shooting. He was 0 for 5 from 3-point range.
The Rebels had 23 assists off 28 made baskets, another gift for Davis, who has called for better ball movement from his players since the beginning of the season.
Once Tyree gained confidence with 3-point makes early in the first half he began to put up shots early in the possessions.
“What happened is he really got those shots out of the offense because they had to be assisted,” Davis said. “In the second half he tried to dribble and manufacture, and that’s when he had maybe a couple of those turnovers.”
Davis said he likes giving players more freedom when they hit a groove.
“I love playing that way,” he said. “When you can make a couple of buckets I think the freedom of allowing a guy to get going with that heater he’s on … that’s great.”