Missouri Mississippi Basketball

Mississippi forward KJ Buffen (5) dribbles during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri in Oxford, Miss., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Mississippi won 80-59.

OXFORD Ole Miss hopes to find toughness in the paint that it lacked against its rival to get back in the win column and sweep No. 24 Missouri.

The Tigers were No. 10 when the Rebels routed them in the second half and won 80-59 in Oxford on Feb. 10.

It’s an 8 p.m. tip at Mizzou Arena tonight, and the game will air on the SEC Network.

The Rebels (12-9, 7-7 SEC) were physical in the paint in the first meeting, holding Missouri (14-6, 7-7 SEC) big man Jeremiah Tilmon to his SEC low of six points.

The 6-foot-10, 260- pound senior averages 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds.

He got off only four shots against Ole Miss.

Tilmon missed the Tigers next two games but had 17 points – including 7 for 7 from the free throw line – at South Carolina on Saturday.

MSU outscored Ole Miss 36-24 in the paint, frustrating guard Devontae Shuler when he got there. Shuler was 1 for 15 from the floor.

“Their bigs just went right at our bigs,” Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis said. “They were more physical. We didn’t guard them early enough. They caught the ball too deep in the post. They rebounded their misses, their guards beat our guards and got some cheap baskets inside. They were better than we were within four feet of the goal, and I take full responsibility.”

Without Tilmon, Missouri lost its next two games at home against Arkansas and at Georgia before rebounding with a 93-78 victory at the other Columbia – in South Carolina.

Two weeks ago, Missouri was part of a four-game Ole Miss win streak that created NCAA Tournament buzz for the Rebels who saw their NET Ranking rise to 55. They began to hear the Ole Miss name mentioned favorably by ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.

Now the Rebels sit at 62 after the MSU loss.

Davis said poor defense affected the Rebels on the offensive end against MSU. There was less passing, less sharing of the ball, he said.

More than anything else there was less physicality and not enough scoring prowess from guard Jarkel Joiner, center Romellow White or others when Shuler struggled.

“There were times when Abdul (Ado) would miss, get his own rebound, miss, get his own rebound … I tried everybody to find somebody to rebound and match their physicality around the goal,” Davis said.

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