OXFORD Ole Miss guard Devontae Shuler believes the Rebels were better against Florida in spite of yet another SEC loss.

It wasn’t enough for the Rebels to shoot better against the Gators. They didn’t shoot better in the game’s biggest moments and watched a nine-point lead slip away over the last 6 minutes, 28 seconds.

Ole Miss (6-5, 1-3 SEC) lost for the fifth time in seven games after a 4-0 start. The Rebels will try to improve their situation this morning at 11 against Georgia at The Pavilion. The game will air on ESPN2.

A layup by Shuler gave Ole Miss a solid lead with seconds ticking away, but Florida outscored Ole Miss 14-0 the rest of the way. After hitting big shots to build the lead, including 3-pointers by Shuler and Dimencio Vaughn in a 25-15 run, the Rebels missed their last eight shots.

Shuler saw the unfortunate finish as a product of poor practice habits.

“I kind of think it just goes to us finishing practices out. Sometimes guys don’t want to finish practice, and it follows over to the game. It’s cost us a couple of times actually,” he said.

Few teams would be hungrier than SEC-winless Georgia (7-4, 0-4) to add a conference win.

The Bulldogs, though, have added an important piece that will make closing out a game more difficult for Ole Miss.

They got a big boost Wednesday in the debut of freshman KJ Johnson, but it wasn’t enough boost to overcome Auburn in a 95-77 loss.

Johnson, the No. 87 recruit on the 247Sports composite list, had 21 points on 9-for-19 shooting. He added seven rebounds and four steals.

Johnson, a 6-foot-1 guard, was flagged by the NCAA for unspecified academic concerns and sat out his team’s first 10 games.

Ole Miss has struggled with shooting much of the season but was 8 for 13 in the run to build the late nine-point lead.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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