A few thoughts on the Rebels’ 83-82 double overtime loss to Auburn …

I mentioned before that Ole Miss didn’t appear to be as bad as things seemed during a six-game losing streak and an 0-5 SEC start.

I based that on their home performances against Arkansas and LSU.

That doesn’t mean things are good. What is unfolding right now is the picture of a team that can get streaky in a comfortable environment but can’t get enough stops to keep another team from mounting a comeback.

With Arkansas it was the lightning fast surge from 11 points back. LSU was similar, but the Auburn game was unique.

The Rebels were up 19 … one, nine. It was early in the second half, to be sure, but you’ve shortened the game by then, and the clock is your friend. All you have to be for less than 20 minutes is average not outstanding.

That was the first minute of the second half. Auburn chipped away, but the Rebels withstood the run and pushed the lead back to 17 with 12:35 remaining.

But even with the clock as a friend the Rebels’ inability to guard dribble-penetration without fouling – a complete turnaround from the stellar defensive effort to start the game – was their undoing. Being minus-12 on the glass and giving up 19 second-chance points didn’t help. …

When Breein Tyree fouled out with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left the Rebels looked confused, that’s even with Tyree being held below double figures. His presence on the court means that much.

Ole Miss went 10-plus minutes after Tyree’s exit with only one field goal, but eventually the Rebels found some rhythm on offense down the stretch.

Devontae Shuler, with 26 points, looked like the guard we saw more often a year ago. He’s struggled to put a streak of good offensive games together this season, so we’ll see where this leads.

KJ Buffen had two big buckets in the paint in the second overtime that put the Rebels in position to win. The problem was they had to go back and play defense and couldn’t guard the paint without fouling. Auburn was 19 for 24 from the free throw line after halftime.

Blake Hinson had 16 points but chose to take the 3-pointer at the end rather than drive. Try as Kermit Davis does he can’t seem to get through to Hinson that he wants Hinson to drive more than pull up and shoot the 3. Hinson showed last night and has shown before that he can get to the rim. He just doesn’t choose that track often.

Ole Miss had four players in double figures last night, and Tyree was not one of them. That’s a nice start in the quest for more scoring from others, but the early minutes after he fouled out just underscored that he’s the best offensive player the Rebels have and how much they depend on him. …

Davis, as he did in Saturday’s win at Georgia, used seven players for the most part. Freshman Sammy Hunter played 2 minutes. Tyree, Hinson, Shuler, Buffen, Khadim Sy, Austin Crowley and Bryce Williams played the rest. Hinson played 49 of the 50 minutes, Shuler 48.

Fatigue will become a factor in a few weeks, and this team that can’t quite seem to get over the hump against good teams won’t be as close to them at the end.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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